Family Law Reform: Blame-Shifting, Victim-Shaming, and Deception.

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Last year, I was having a discussion with a woman I know who was having an on-going custody and child support dispute with the father of her children.

Just to lay the groundwork, the father gets 4 hours visitation on Sunday afternoons every two weeks and, he gets to walk his child from her mother’s car to the school door every Friday.

I inquired, “That’s crazy. Why so little time?”

She responded, “That’s what the judge gave him. He has to show the judge he deserves more.”

I responded, “What does the judge have to do with it?  No judge is going to complain if you voluntarily give your child more time with her father.”

Her response, “I have to follow court orders.”

Note: There are no issues with this family that might require supervised parenting, etc . The father simply could not afford an attorney.

Fast-forward….

Yesterday, I posted an article to our Facebook page published by Real Clear Politics titled, “Of 27 Deadliest Mass Shooters, 26 of Them Were Fatherless.”

And these are some of the responses we received:

“Wow Love and Iron…..just wow!

I agree the sentiment behind abolishing parental alienation…..BUT to use this? Disgusting!

Did it ever occur to you…..that the fathers abandoned them? Is that ever a possibility with you? Do men NEVER do that? To be taken more seriously you need to acknowledge and separate the fathers….not combine them! Foolish!



“Take a poll!

How many members are actual fathers……and how many are stepmothers following this page?”


“MANY men WALK AWAY on their own or have 2nd lives. Ya may want to do better research.”


“AMEN!! I’m sick.of it!!! Actually….MORE MOTHERS LIMIT KIDS’ TIME ON GAMES also!! We provide the continuety of care and KNOW it causes lack of empathy!!”

So In The Interests of Candor and Credibility, Let’s Lay Out Some Facts.

There is no doubt that the existing model for litigating custody in family court was influenced in part, by societal constructs that existed fifty years ago in which a far greater number of mothers stayed at home with children.

However, a research study conducted in 2015 by the Pew Research center found that dads are just as likely as moms to say that parenting is extremely important to their identity; some 57% of fathers compared to 58% of mothers – a statistical dead heat. In addition, it’s worth noting the study also found that most fathers believe they should be spending more time with their children, but, they also feel pressured to prioritize work and bread-winning over spending time with their kids.

Still, according to a 2016 census report, the percentage of custodial parents who are fathers rose by a mere 2.7% from 16.9% in 1994 to 19.6% in 2016.  In other words, 80% of custodial parents remain mothers.

Understand the Incentives, Understand the Problem:

Much of current custody and child support enforcement law was inspired by sociologist Dr. Lenore Weitzman (a professor of women’s studies), who in a 1985 research report, claimed the standard of living for women declined by an average of 73% after divorce.

The math in that report was later exposed by sociologists and economists to be grossly inaccurate and misleading (some even claimed blatantly fraudulent), and yet, little has been done to remedy the damage done by the political reaction to it.  In fact, the bizarre response to these revelations was to institute Federal Title IV-D bonuses and financial incentives that reward states for creating absent parents so they can maximize, collect, enforce, and administer child support payment pools.

Follow the money, and you’ll find the truth.

If a custodial parent wants to enforce a custody order, he or she can engage a state attorney and bring the full force of state law enforcement upon the non-custodial parent.

On the other hand, if a non-custodial parent wants to enforce a custody order, he or she must hire their own attorney, incur expenses over and above child support and alimony obligations; and do so with the understanding that any substantive enforcement remedies will be both meager and unlikely.

The short story version is: absent parents are being manufactured to harvest money for states, for custodial parents, and for the family court industry.

More specifically, given that mothers are awarded custody 80% of time, and, that child support orders are incentivized and enforced while custody orders are not; it should be apparent that child support and custody law is merely socioeconomic policy intended to redistribute income and other lifestyle benefits from fathers (men) to mothers (women), and in order to make this work, absent parents (80% of which are fathers) need to be created.

The Research Speaks, The False Narrative Begins.

Starting in the mid 1990’s and since, a great deal of research has been done to explore the effect these absent fathers were having on children. And much to the chagrin of many feminist groups, numerous studies about children raised in fatherless households have revealed:

  • A greater likelihood to experience problems with self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • More difficulties with social adjustment.
  • 71% of high school dropouts are fatherless.
  • 85% of youth in prison have an absent father.
  • A greater likelihood of teen pregnancy.
  • A greater likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol.
  • 90% of runaway children have an absent father.
  • At greater risk for suffering physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
  • Children of absent fathers are over-represented in a range of mental health issues, especially anxiety, depression, and suicide.

Of course, this created a problem.

How can Government continue it’s socioeconomic policy, and how can states preserve federal funding revenue if they award more parenting time to fathers?

Well, when you can’t claim innocence, blame the victim.

We still have is a legal system that remains purposefully engineered to create absent fathers and then proceeds to shame them for being absent, even as these dads are bankrupting themselves (mentally, emotionally, and financially) to remain in the lives of their children.

We’re not denying there are fathers who abandon their children, and we have just as much contempt for them as we do alienating parents.

We’ve also said that ninety percent of the pathology built into family law can be corrected by a simple switch to the presumption of 50/50 custody after divorce that is accompanied by the equal and rational enforcement of both custody and child support orders.

However, changes to law aside, and just like conversation with the woman I used to open this blog article, we do have the freedom to make our own personal choices – even today.

If we really care about children, we’ll stop incentivizing the absence of fathers, stop the campaigns of deceit, start treating parental alienation with the seriousness it deserves, and actually act as if this is true.


 

Family Law Reform: Sometimes People Want You To Think It’s About Others, When It’s Really About Them.

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I was reminded of the thought expressed in the title to this post the other day, which provoked me to update some older posts that decomposed and explained Title IV-D bonuses and incentives to states (Federal Title IV-D funds are bonuses and incentives paid to states for maximizing, collecting, enforcing, and administering child support payments).

Certainly the incentive pool portion of Federal Title IV-D program is sizable; $500 million annually split up between states and territories. But, let’s not get hung up on that.

California, for example, received $490 million in Federal Title IV-D bonuses and reimbursements in 2012 (the last year any data was published).

Now, let’s consider the question: What would the presumption of 50/50 parenting after divorce mean to California?

Well, it’s plausible it’ll mean a dramatic reduction in both parental conflict and child support pools to administer, which in turn means funding will dry up, which also means you’ll have a whole lot of government lawyers, support staff, and bureaucrats sitting around with nothing to do and and no federal funding to pay them.

Recently, we’ve been beating the drum that we have to abandon any notion that moral appeals will sway legislators to do the right thing for parents and children.  Granted, when you see the harm done by existing family law, and especially to children, one should expect moral arguments to be persuasive, but after twenty years of trying, it’s clear they are falling on deaf ears.

The short story version: Courts are ordering absent parents (and harming children) so they can use noncustodial parents to fund a system that pays government to create absent parents for money.

That’s some beautiful, circular, self serving logic; and all the while, they have to gall to shame non-custodial parents for being absent even as these NCP’s are bankrupting themselves by fighting to stay in the lives of their children.


 

 

 

 

 

Caution: Shared Parenting May Not Be What You Think It Is.

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Is shared parenting legislation a win?

Sadly, probably not.

In truth, it’s mostly political deception intended to manufacture the appearance of change, when in fact, there is nothing that is substantively different from existing law.

To test for yourself if this statement is true, ask yourself a few questions about your proposed or existing shared parenting law:

  • Does it enable an environment of conflict?
  • Does it provide for the presumption of 50/50 custody?
  • Is there a financial incentive to minimize or eliminate noncustodial parenting time?
  • Is the problem of parental alienation addressed with the legislation?
  • Are there reforms to the enforcement of child support orders?
  • Are there reforms to the enforcement of custody orders?
  • Are there measures to remedy false allegations of abuse made during custody proceedings?

Probably, not. Mostly likely, there are “guidelines” judges are encouraged to honor with the intention of providing noncustodial parents with more parenting time, but the legal environment is not substantively different.

Politicians are still legislating unequal custody divisions, presumably to preserve their Federal Title IVD revenue streams, and, the nebulous and overly broad “best interests of the children” doctrine is still the dominate feature of law; meaning that at the end of the day, judges are free to do whatever they want, just as they are now.

To put this in perspective, ask yourself two more questions: (1) Under existing law, are judges free to award 50/50 custody, and (2) Are they doing it?

These bills are largely theater.

With our recent open letter to legislators, we noted a few sensible features that are necessary for healthy family law.  Most notably:

  • Prioritize the interests of children above the interests of those who seek to profit because of them.
  • Recalibrate the legal environment to encourage and reward cooperation, not conflict.
  • Recognize the relationship value of both parents to children, and move the reference point to a presumption of 50/50 custody.
  • Assign equal importance and the rational enforcement of both child support and custody orders.
  • Child support and custody orders should reflect the needs of the children, and not the lifestyle demands of the custodial parent.
  • Provide judges with resources and remedies to quickly and credibly identify legitimate instances of abuse and fraudulent allegations of it.
  • Recognize that parental alienation is a form of child abuse, and should be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

The truth about the substance of shared parenting bills moving through various legislators at the moment is they are still 100 percent about the stimulation of conflict and the creation of absent parents for money, and they continue to leave the problems of parental alienation and false allegations untouched.

In a recent blog post, we talked about what’s been missing from the family law reform effort, and what’s needed to put an end to the political gaming and motivate legislators to make substantive and healthier reforms to family law, and within that spirit, we’re making some changes here at The Love and Iron Project as well.

We’ve been more than patient, and in the end, what were getting from politicians are manipulations that, quite frankly, assume we’re too dumb to understand what they’re really up to.

We’re not fooled, and we’re not stupid.  In fact, it’s long past time to put an end to all this nonsense, and it doesn’t matter if they’ve just passed new legislation this year; that’s not our problem. We’ve been letting them know for the last twenty years what’s needed, and if they have to turn around rework what they’ve just passed, well, too bad.


 

 

Family Law Reform: The Failure Of A Moral Argument

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Consider the following story from one of our members:

“My son testified in the state capital when a proposal was made to adopt 50/50 custody.

He did not care about money, he pays his support by living home with me. What he wanted was more time with his sons and he petitioned for an extra overnight, and waived child support reduction. 

The mother’s lawyer asked why if he was only putting the kids to bed?

He told the her, I want to lay in my bed and listen to my sons breathing in their sleep knowing they are close by me.

At the state hearing, a legislator told him the proposal would not get much support because: We don’t care about you, its all about the money.”

~ Susan

This story, in a tragic and powerful way, illustrates everything thing that’s vile about family law. Even the mother’s attorney couldn’t understand why he would waive his child support reduction to get one more overnight when “he was only putting the kids to bed…”

Um, maybe because he loves them?

Sadly, it neatly sums up and presents the heart of the problem with respect to existing family law: politicians have legislated the creation of absent parents so that other can profit from it. The focus is not on people, it’s on the money to be made and they’re brutally throwing both parents and children under the bus to realize their goals.

Why Isn’t The Moral Argument Working?

Don’t allow yourself to be fooled. It is easy to rest under the misperception that a strong moral appeal is enough to motivate action.  For some it is, but for most? Nope.

You’ve probably seen this yourself.  There are things people say publicly that are inconsistent with their actions, and thus the old axiom: attach little credibility to what people say they will do, and attach a whole lot of credibility to what you observe them actually doing.

Which is sort of a polite way of saying, people will manufacture a public image that is different from what they really care about, i.e. people will lie or misrepresent when it serves their interests.

In economics, we use a crafty little strategic tactic called a screen to get people to reveal themselves.  With a screen, you mindfully construct a choice for the target, and let his or her actions speak for themselves.  Of course, you don’t have to go through the process of constructing a screen, you can also utilize natural screens which only requires observing what people choose to do in response to events that happen naturally.

Which leads us to an important insight: If politicians were motivated by morals, they would have rewritten these laws 20 years ago, which also means if we’re going to solve the family law problem and deliver change, we’re going to have to change our approach to the problem.

Family Law Reform: Failure Of Political Influence

For more than thirty years, family law reform advocates have been working like crazy to persuade legislators to build a healthier system of family law.

And after all the time and effort spent engaging with state legislators, next to nothing has been done to address the problems of child abuse by parental alienation, false allegations of abuse made in family court, and the grossly unequal and irrational enforcement of custody and child support orders.

Just one state (Kentucky) has adopted law for the presumption of 50-50 custody, while a handful of the others push “shared parenting legislation” that is in truth, not substantively different than existing law.

In other words, we’ve been witnessing theater intended to make it appear as though politicians are enacting progressive law, when in fact, these laws are not substantively different from what already existed.

They’re playing games.

If you want to influence politician behavior, it helps to know three important things:

  1. What they care about.
  2. What their goals are.
  3. How they like to go about getting things done.

Additionally, and with respect to goals, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between means goals and ends goals.

For example, a politician may tell you what you want to hear (manipulative action) to appease you (means goal) when in fact she intends on doing something else like satisfying a lobbyist so she can harvest money for an election campaign (means goal) to win an election (means goal) because she cares about harvesting power (means goal) in order to accomplish legislative goals (ends goal).

Of course, some politicians will be guided by conscience, but sadly, a few legislators are not enough to get something done. And for most politicians (despite what they tell us) moral conscience is not in the equation.

The good news is, when you understand how someone operates and why, you can discern what they’re up to and outmaneuver them.

Change The Incentives, Change The Game

The father in the Susan’s story simply wanted to be a parent. He advocated to his elected officials for the presumption of 50/50 custody, and was told by a legislator that he, his relationship with his children, and his children are not important.

I can’t even begin to describe the anger and loathing I feel when I see politicians, judges, lawyers, family court investigators, and custodial parents prioritize the harvesting of money over and above the well being people, especially children.

For many of us, parenting is all we’ve every wanted from life. And no parent should be forced to bankrupt themselves to stay in the lives of their children, nor should they be forced to choose between paying child support or hiring an attorney in a desperate attempt to enforce ignored custody orders.

Our family justice system is absolutely corrupted by greed, and the foxes are ruling the hen house.  There is no excuse for using children as leverage to extort money from a parent, and there is no excuse for creating absent parents so that states can harvest money from the Federal Government.

This. Is. Ludicrous.

I know there are noncustodial parents reading this blog post who, like me, have been immeasurably and irreparably hurt by how our they’ve been treated.

I know there are extended family members who’ve been painfully alienated from their grand children, their nephews, and their nieces.

And I know there are children suffering immense emotional and psychological damage because they’ve lost a parent due to a legal system and a family court industry that more concerned with making money than protecting children.

We have every right to be angry – No one should be treated the way.  However, we also have the responsibility to take ownership of the problem, because sitting around feeling sorry or waiting for others to do the work is not going to result in a solution.

In short, we need more horsepower to win, and actually, we have it. We’re just not using it effectively.

Our job at the Love and Iron Project is to make it easy for small, individual actions on your part to have big, powerful effects to family law. Because it’s not one person doing giant, heroic things that’s going win this.  It’s all of us doing small but highly effective things that when pooled together change the game.  That’s guiding philosophy of everything you’ve seen from us in the past, and everything you’ll continue to see from us in the future.

The key thing that stories like Susan’s reveal is that purely persuasive efforts with politicians have not been enough.

Recalling the motivational pattern noted above regarding politicians, if we want to impose our legislative goals for family law reform on them, it’s not difficult to see that we have numerous leverage points from which to work, and we can actually stress all of them simultaneously. Most notably:

  • Utilize skepticism and sentiment.
  • Make it difficult for them to raise money.
  • Make it difficult for them to get elected.
  • Threaten their power.
  • Disrupt the achievement of their goals.

We’ve built a road map (which we’ll unveil next week-ish) to accomplish all those things.

 

Memo To Followers: Is The Fox Ruling The Henhouse?

You might have noticed that the common theme of our most recent publicity messages center around “sharing the truth”.

And there’s a reason for this:  we’ve been seeing a rather active effort on the part of our opposition to blatantly lie to the Public in an attempt to thwart Family Law reform.

In reality, this is not new.  Because they’ve been doing this for the last forty years or so.

Never the less, you’re probably seeing a ridiculous talking point come up a lot lately.  I’ve seen it all over, and it’s probably best described by a Facebook post is saw in the Love and Iron newsfeed from NC Fathers.  Here is the opening post:

“In speaking w/ a NC Legislator yesterday, she exclaimed that in many cases the only reason a non-custodial parent would want shared parenting or joint custody is so that they could lower child support payments.”

I then followed up with a post to that thread describing my disgust with National Organization for Women (NOW) and other anti-equal parenting lobbying groups; because it’s become apparent that this is one of the universal talking points that’s being injected into the public commentary – I’m simply seeing it all over.  Basically, here’s  what they’re saying:

**The only reason fathers want equal parenting is to avoid paying child support.**  

Yet interestingly enough, when we recently ran a poll of our followers, we asked the following question:

“If you were given a magic wand and told you could change just ONE thing about Family Law, right now; what would that ONE thing be?

  1. A presumption of 50/50 custody.
  2. An elimination of shared income redistributions within the child support calculation
  3. Government enforcement of visitation orders
  4. Punishments/Remedies for fraudulent false allegations of abuse.

So according to the propaganda, it would be logical to expect that answer “B” would have dominated the responses, or at the very least, presented a significant presence.

Well, as it happens, option “B” did not receive a single vote – NOT ONE person who responded to our poll identified child support as the most important Family Law reform they wanted addressed.

None.

Nada.

Zip-o-la.

In fact here are the results:

Option “A” – the presumption of 50/50 custody received 35.20% of the votes.

Option “B” – the elimination of income sharing within the child support calculation, of course, received 0% of the votes.

Option “C” – Government enforcement of visitation orders received 5.88% of the votes.

Option “D” – Punishments/Remedies for fraudulent false allegations of abuse received the remaining, and largest percentage of votes at 58.82%.

Actually,  I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume we’re not the first organization to come up with these sorts of findings, and it would be hard for me to believe that those putting out the misinformation are ignorant of the facts.

Could it be that they’re simply lying to the Public in order to promote a political agenda?

NC Fathers then followed up my post with a response:

“We don’t worry so much about NOW anymore.

I see diehard members of that organization starting to speak out about how this system throws step-mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other females under the bus.

It used to be framed as a male vs. female issue, but clearly women in paternal families are on their knees as much as fathers are.

The REAL opponent is one of the largest, single most powerful lobby organizations in the USA. That is the American Bar Association which pumps tremendous amounts of influence and money into stopping equally shared parenting.

It disturbs us to know that the lawyers we are spending $15,000 on per custody matter believe that we either win, or be marginalized.”

Ah, so we get to the heart of it.

True enough, it’s about money all right, but who is REALLY the party guilty of greed?

Well, that question is answered very well described by another follower posting on the conversation thread referenced here:

“This is sad but true.

When my husband and I decided to divorce, we sat down and agreed to split everything 50/50 and to make an appointment with our marriage counselor to learn how to tell the kids, and to discuss how to share them. Because we were both in agreement, we decided to share a lawyer. Because he worked out of town, I agreed to find a lawyer to help us draw up paperwork.

At my initial meeting the attorney informed me she cannot represent both of us and my husband would have to get his own attorney.

She started asking questions about our jobs and lives and then let me know that because he made more money, I am due alimony to bring me up to his level of income. She also advised I fight for sole custody of the kids, or at the very least reduce his visitation down to no more than something like 60 nights per year, as that would give me the maximum child support.

I’m embarrassed to say, I had never even heard of child support before!

We were still living together at this point, so she advised I start a fight that would encourage HIM to be the one to move out so it would look like he abandoned us, as this would give me my best chance at my custody and child support wishes. She spent an hour telling me what a looser he was (she’d never met him!) and how much of his money I deserved.

When I told her that I couldn’t live with myself taking so much from him and taking the kids away from their dad, she started telling me that my kids deserve to live in one home with their mother, how studies proved that mothers are better care takers, and that his new role should be to provide financial support, if he really loved his children.

She even said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to only work part time or quit working, your kids need you more than you need your job!” I did not hire her, and we figured out how to file our paperwork without crooked attorneys, got co-parenting advise from a counselor, and today our kids enjoy a healthy relationship with both parents, and we share equally in all expenses (actually, he probably does pay a little more than half their expenses, but it is his choice to do so, he has more expensive tastes in stuff than I do).

I believe many attorneys are the root cause of their family court battles, and likely the reason family court moves so extremely slow!”

As of the latest published data by the US Census Bureau (2007), there were 175,825 Law firms generating just under $228 billion dollars in gross annual revenues operating within the United States.

88% of these entities were operating with 10 or fewer employees with an average of 6.3 employees per firm, which equates to approximately $205,627 per employee.

Furthermore, in the United States, politicians who described their profession as “lawyer” make up the single most influential voting block within Congress  (37.2% total; with 60% of the US Senate being lawyers).

Ah okay….

So now we see the game that’s being played here:

(1)    Lawyers make money from conflicts centering around significant threats to life, liberty, and money.  It doesn’t matter if they win or lose, as long as they stakes are high and important, and the legal process sufficiently confusing or unknown; they get paid.  Therefore, it’s in the best interests of the American Bar Association to create and/or preserve the conditions that enable conflict around children. Conflict around one’s children equals BIG money for lawyers.

(2)    The way to preserve or enhance these conditions is to use legal language that is nebulous and presumptive.  Nebulous means vague and open to interpretation, and within Law, presumption defines where the burden of proof resides.  And two of the most hotly contested laws affecting non-custodial parents (The Best Interests of the Children Rule, and The Violence Against Women Act) satisfy all these conditions: (1) Nebulous and open to interpretation by the Court, (2) Presumptive: the burden of proof is on the father to reach a high standard to show why he should have equal parenting rights, and in the Case of allegations of abuse; the accused party, which is the father 98% of the time, is presumed guilty and the burden of proof is on that person to show the allegations are unfounded, (3) High stakes (life, children, liberty, money),  and (4) public confusion and ignorance regarding the form, structure, and process of Family Law.  And it’s under these conditions that lawyers and friends of the Court parenting plan evaluators, supervisors, investigators, and social workers are making a pile of money.

(3)     As it sits currently, custodial parents, States, and many Courts enjoy lucrative financial incentives to maximize child support payments, which is likely to include minimizing or eliminating a non-custodial parents time with their children.  Why? Because the Federal Government has set it up this way by rationing Federal subsidies to States through child support enforcement vis-à-vis Title IVD Child Support Enforcement bonuses (Click here to learn more about Federal Money to States for child support enforcement). So, what we’ve got here is an environment where custodial parents, which are statistically mothers (84% of the time; the resulting 14% being mostly joint custody cases, and a very small percent having fathers as the primary custodian), lawyers, Court-appointed investigators, and Courts are colluding with each other to protect and enhance their financial interests.

But the big question remains, why are our elected officials within Federal Government not only enabling this behavior, not only empowering it, but deliberately misrepresenting the facts?

Well, Family Law reform is about money all right.  

But when you’re doing something disgusting, it helps to create a noble excuse for it and manipulate public opinion about where the blame lies.

Child support reform is NOT the primary concern of our followers  – it’s the primary concern of everyone who is making money by preserving the conditions of high-stakes conflict; those who are profiting from the abuse and exploitation of parents and children.

The Family Court Industry is not hiding the fact that ultimately, the argument is about money. They’re simply misrepresenting the facts so that it appears NCP’s, who are mostly fathers, are to blame.

So, why are our politicians supporting and spinning this for the Family Court industry?

Because the Family Court Industry is making out like bandits, and this means money for politicians, which of course means winning elections and power.

When you have power to over laws, you have power to attract political donations. And when you have power to give money to politicians, you have the power to affect the laws.

It’s a nice little cozy relationship, don’t ya think?

And this is why, the position of The Love And Iron Project is that the answer to our problems; the solution to the end of the exploitation and abuse of parents and children for money rests in our ability to come together in sufficient numbers to coerce change at the political level.

There is simply too much money being made by everyone involved. If we want change, we’re going to have to force it, because believe me, neither the Family Court Industry nor the Political Establishment is going to give up all this cash for moral reasons.

They don’t care about that. They don’t really care about your children. And they certainly don’t care about you – They are manufacturing suffering for you and your children so they can profit fromit. They are using you.

If we want change, we’re going to have to take it upon ourselves to make it happen.  

We’re going to have to show these politicians that it’s in their best interests to change the laws or they’re going to lose their jobs – period.

Change the politicians, change the laws. Change the laws, change Court behavior. Change Court behavior, change the result.

Do this, and all the profiteers are stripped of their power and removed from the equation.

~ Michael

Memo To Followers: The Ugly Truth About Why States Don’t Want Shared/Equal Parenting (Continued):

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You may recall that I recently posted a memo describing how States are profiting from the creation of absent parents (see the link below for the original post).

Well, in that post, I only described part of the money picture the States are getting.

And while I’m still working on it, below is copy from an email I recently sent to FatherandFamilies.org that provides a bit more clarity and detail about how The Feds providing financial incentives to States who create absent parents and/or maximize child support payements.

Again, if you feel lost, the original post is linked below.

In any case, here is my understanding of it:

There are three revenue sources for States associated with the collection and administration of child support payments defined under the broad cover of the Social Security Act:

(1) 66% reimbursement for allowable expenditures, which are:

a. Costs for locating parents
b. Costs for establishing orders
c. Costs for collecting child support payments
d. Costs for establishing paternity
e. Any other misc. costs approved by the Secretary for reimbursement.
f.  And exception of 90% matching for the following two expenditures
i.  Improving management information systems
ii. Blood testing

(2) Welfare recovery and matching:

a. Recovered TANF payments are split between the Federal Government and States consistent with Federal reimbursement of medical benefits (I’m still not clear about exactly how this part works in practice.)

(3) Incentive pool (Public Law 105-200, the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1988 ( enacted July 16, 1998 ))
:

With the incentive pool, states must compete for their share of the funds, which I believe currently, is around $530MM to $535MM.

A. The incentive amount = State Incentive Pool (x) State Incentive Share

B. State Incentive Share = Incentive Base Amount For The State (/) Sum of Incentive Base Amounts For All States

C. Incentive Base Amount = Sum Of Applicable Percentages {defined by paragraph 6 of the Act} (x) Corresponding Maximum Incentive Base Amounts for each bonus category:
Bonus Categories Are:
A. Paternity Establishment Performance Level
B. Support Order Performance Level
C. Current Payment Performance Level
D. Arrearage Performance Level
E. Cost Effectiveness Performance Level

D. Maximum Incentive Base Amount = State Collections Base (as measured in performance categories A,B,C) + 75% state collections base ( performance categories D, E).

E. State Collections Base = Sum ( 2 (x) amount collected in which support is assigned to the State (bonus categories A or E), amount of support collected that was at the time of collection, not required to be assigned), total amount of support collected)

Summary of Observations:

If the incentive structure gives you headache, take heart. I’m an econometrician by training, and it gives me one as well. And this is why I wanted to actual figures that I could use to test this stuff out.

In any case, here is how I’m visualizing the incentive program:

Think of it is a pie; we know this is a closed mathematical domain. So, the objective for each state is to maximize their share of the pie (incentive base amounts relative to other states). And in this regard, you’ll note that the Fed’s apply a 25% penalty to the maximum incentive base amounts for two categories: (1) Support collected in arrears, and (2) Support Costs. Number two kind of puzzles me. The only thing that makes sense to me here, is that this deflation is intended to hit those states with particularly high costs per amount collected harder than those who perform better.

Secondly, you’ll note that the Fed’s place double the weight of state administered child support payments assigned to the State for collection; either by order or agreement.

So, with respect to incentive pools, I’m deducing:

(1) An incentive to maximize the amount of child support ordered.
(2) An incentive to maximize the amount of child support collected.
(3) An incentive to avoid high collection costs.
(4) An incentive to assign collections to the State for Administration.
(5) A penalty to incentive base amounts for child support amounts in arrears.

In other words, the name of the game here for States, is to generate the biggest number possible (incentive base amount) constrained by the maximum incentive base amount. Once these numbers are in for the year, shares are created and the pie is split up.

Now, as it relates observation (3), this is why I really wanted the budget data. States already get reimbursed for 66% of their hard costs, and get a little bit of extra in there for a couple of other things. The part that’s concerning, is the allowable expanse for “other” expenses approved by the Secretary. Because as I see it, it would not be all that difficult shore up the remaining 34% with all kinds little creative accounting tactics if the political sentiment supported the behavior – this is a political black box in the accounting (as I see it).

Summary:

(1) States get reimbursed for 66% of the hard costs of collecting and administering child support.

(2) States bonus funds for welfare programs using a formula consistent with Federal medical program reimbursements.

(3) States get bonus funds from a shared incentive pool, in which those incentives are driven by the nominal amount of child support collected and the performance in collecting it. And nowhere in the Act, do I see language that mandates how this incentive money is to be spent by states (as opposed to (1) and (2). In my mind, this makes it a Federal subsidy landing in the discretionary (general) budget of the States. ”

****

A fine group of elected officials we have here.

It really does seem to be all about the “Best interests of the children.”

Not.

~ Michael

Original Memo:

http://loveandiron.com/2012/08/28/the-ugly-truth-why-states-and-courts-dont-want-shared-parenting/

The Ugly Truth: Why States and Courts Don’t Want Shared Parenting

titleivd

Recently, I’ve been getting some queries about why I’ve been hammering so much on the issue of child support payments. And, I suspect, we’ve lost a follower or two because I’ve sort of ratcheted up the rhetoric on this topic a bit lately.

In fact, a couple of weeks a ago, we were having a discussion on this page in which I was asserting that States can receive anywhere from $1 to $2 in Federal subsidy payments for every dollar they collect and administer in child support payments.  And it was during one of this discussion that one of our followers asked the simple question, “Do you have any documentation on this?”.

Well, at the time, the only information I had available was budget information from the Office of Child Support Enforcement from 2009. So I contacted Michael McKormick at the American Coalition for Fathers and Children and he confirmed that my information was also the most recent published data he had as well (He also noted that Obama administration has been highly resistant to publishing any current budget data on this matter….).

In any case, enter my new best friend, Rita Fuerst Adams from Fathers and Families (Fathersandfamilies.org).

Because Rita was able to track down for me the actual act that describes exactly how these payments and bonuses are calculated.

I’ve Attached The Link For You Below. But Here Is The Short Story Version:

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*The program is administered by the Office of Child Support Enforcement within the Administration of Children and Families; which is governed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

* The Act governing the program is known as the `Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1998′.

* There are bonus and penalty measures that determine the funding.

* Incentive Payments to States –

(1) IN GENERAL- The incentive payment for a State for a fiscal year is equal to the incentive payment pool for the fiscal year, multiplied by the State incentive payment share for the fiscal year.

(2) INCENTIVE PAYMENT POOL-

(A) IN GENERAL- In paragraph (1), the term `incentive payment pool’ means–

(i) $422,000,000 for fiscal year 2000;

(ii) $429,000,000 for fiscal year 2001;

(iii) $450,000,000 for fiscal year 2002;

(iv) $461,000,000 for fiscal year 2003;

(v) $454,000,000 for fiscal year 2004;

(vi) $446,000,000 for fiscal year 2005;

(vii) $458,000,000 for fiscal year 2006;

(viii) $471,000,000 for fiscal year 2007;

(ix) $483,000,000 for fiscal year 2008; and

(x) for any succeeding fiscal year, the amount of the incentive payment pool for the fiscal year that precedes such succeeding fiscal year, multiplied by the percentage (if any) by which the CPI for such preceding fiscal year exceeds the CPI for the second preceding fiscal year.

(B) CPI- For purposes of subparagraph (A), the CPI for a fiscal year is the average of the Consumer Price Index for the 12-month period ending on September 30 of the fiscal year. As used in the preceding sentence, the term `Consumer Price Index’ means the last Consumer Price Index for all-urban consumers published by the Department of Labor.

*** So essentially, the pool value increases every year at growth rate equal to the consumer price index. Which for 2012, would put the incentive pool at a little over 530,000,000****

(3) STATE INCENTIVE PAYMENT SHARE- In paragraph (1), the term `State incentive payment share’ means, with respect to a fiscal year–

(A) the incentive base amount for the State for the fiscal year; divided by

(B) the sum of the incentive base amounts for all of the States for the fiscal year.

Now, here’s where it gets important, because this is where the base value figures are established:

(4) INCENTIVE BASE AMOUNT- In paragraph (3), the term incentive base amount’ means, with respect to a State and a fiscal year, the sum of the applicable percentages (determined in accordance with paragraph (6)) multiplied by the corresponding maximum incentive base amounts for the State for the fiscal year, with respect to each of the following measures of State performance for the fiscal year:

(5) MAXIMUM INCENTIVE BASE AMOUNT-

(A) IN GENERAL- For purposes of paragraph (4), the maximum incentive base amount for a State for a fiscal year is–

(i) with respect to the performance measures described in subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) of paragraph (4), the State collections base for the fiscal year; and

(ii) with respect to the performance measures described in subparagraphs (D) and (E) of paragraph (4), 75 percent of the State collections base for the fiscal year.

Skipping some stuff here…

(C) STATE COLLECTIONS BASE- For purposes of subparagraph (A), the State collections base for a fiscal year is equal to the sum of–

(i) 2 times the sum of–

(I) the total amount of support collected during the fiscal year under the State plan approved under this part in cases in which the support obligation involved is required to be assigned to the State pursuant to part A or E of this title or title XIX; and

(II) the total amount of support collected during the fiscal year under the State plan approved under this part in cases in which the support obligation involved was so assigned but, at the time of collection, is not required to be so assigned; and

(ii) the total amount of support collected during the fiscal year under the State plan approved under this part in all other cases.

(A) The paternity establishment performance level.

(B) The support order performance level.

(C) The current payment performance level.

(D) The arrearage payment performance level.

(E) The cost-effectiveness performance level.

**So, you can see two important things here.

First, the reimbursements, payments, and bonuses are NOT determined by a reimbursement of State expenses incurred. In fact, the minimization of State Collection Costs is a bonus item.

Secondly, and this is really important, the figures used are the child support funds that States have under administration.

*** See the link for the actual tables for calculating bonuses, etc****

And here is something I found interesting. Check this out:

(c) TREATMENT OF INTERSTATE COLLECTIONS- In computing incentive payments under this section, support which is collected by a State at the request of another State shall be treated as having been collected in full by both States, and any amounts expended by a State in carrying out a special project assisted under section 455(e) shall be excluded.

***i.e. If two States are working together to collect funds, they both get credit for the purposes of establishing bonuses – this is pure gravy.

Note a couple of things here.

First, the bonus values are doubled for the categories of paternity test performance and cost performance.

So why would the Feds care about State costs? Because this is the bonus and incentive program, and States already receive a 66% dollar for dollar reimbursement for administrative costs (and I’m not sure, I’ll have to check, but i think there is a way they can finagle the remaining 34% to get even dollar for dollar match) under a different section of the Social Security Act.

So, there you have it.

States can get up to 100% reimbursement for administrative costs plus up to two times the bonus pool share for two categories along with the rest of it.

Now add to this, the fact that Courts often charge fees for posting these certified payments, and may assess additional fees and fines for enforcement, and you’ve got a very lucrative incentive for States and Courts to maximize child support payments.

In Other Words, It Should Be No Surprise That:

_

(1) Child Support payments are maximized, regardless of whether the NCP can afford them. States and Courts don’t care; the debt can’t go way or be retroactively reduced.

(2) Equal and Shared parenting is disincented – this will reduce revenue to the States and Courts.

(3) More and more States are requiring mandatory garnishments and payment administration. People who are already paying on time will improve their performance ratings for bonus calculations.

(4) States like TX make it difficult for non-paternal parents relieve themselves of child support burdens.

And lastly,

(5) Why States and Courts are not persuaded by reasonable and humane arguments for shared parenting reforms.

The system has been corrupted by money and the Feds are driving this corruption.

It’s time to fire politicians.

~ Michael

Source: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pol/related/3130.htm

Loving With Lettters – Glenn

Corrupt Family Courts.
Bradenton Herald Published my Story, Praise GOD
10 years 4500 pages 735 docket entries.
Case 2002DR3254 12 Circuit Court of Manatee County, Florida.
My reward for 10 years of effort NO CONTACT.
This is a death sentence for Parents in Family Court.
PLEASE, PLEASE post a comment for the record on the newspaper link.
I will never give up on my daughter and your comments will help her understand that Daddy never gave up on her.

Father’s Day tough on dads without visitation rights

As we all look forward to this Father’s Day, the best gift any woman could give to a father is the acknowledgment of the irreplaceable value men and fathers bring to a relationship, to children and what they afford the greater society. What an abject tragedy, what a horrific loss it is for any child to endure a life apart from their father.
The last 30-plus years have unfortunately not been kind to fathers and more importantly their children. It is today an unfortunate fact that of the approximate 70 million fathers in the U.S., 35 million are divorced. Of those 35 million fathers, as a result of a corrupt anti-family court system, approximately 84.4 percent have been relegated to the status of non-custodial parent.
Family courts are wrong;
I have not seen my child in over two years.
It is not fathers “abandoning” their children, it’s feminism, mothers and a biased family court system conspiring for financial gain and legal leverage to secure court orders denying fathers their rights to their children and children their rights to their father.
If you want fathers to act more like fathers, get government out of the way, stop policies that encourage extended court litigation, bogus restraining orders and willful violations of visitations by the custodial parent with no consequences by the courts.
As Always….FOLLOW THE MONEY
Glen Gibellina
Bradenton

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2012/06/11/4069957/fathers-day-tough-on-dads-without.html#storylink=cpy

Loving With Letters – Matthew

I want to call attention to Matthew Landry’s post in recent post’s by other’s (see Dakota’s Page).

Matthew is Dakota’s daddy and my son. He and Dakota are the reason I became involved in the Parental Equal Rights cause.

Matthew is a very young father (19). He has been so hurt by the alienation of his baby as well as totally lost in how to even begin to deal with the legality of this complex issue.

He has been determined to fight for his child from the beginning and I am so proud to watch that determination as he painfully struggles to make some sense of it all.

We need to give more credit to our young men these days.

We as a society are so very quick to put them in the dead beat, irresponsible dad category.

However, our laws are setting them up for failure and pushing them to run and abandon out of fear and shame.

Matthew is one of the fortunate ones, he has a loving supportive family to encourage him to continue on and help him up when he falls.

There are countless others like Matt who don’t have that. They are counting on us for love, support and guidance in the minefield of family court.

May we all stand together in support of them and their children. After all, we are in truth one family, with God as our father!

Love To All,

Cathy Landry

*****

Hello my name is Matthew Jonathan Landry, and my son’s name is Dakota James.

This page is for him and every other father that is standing up for the rights to see their child.

First off, I want to give a special thanks to everyone that likes and supports this page (Dakota’s Page)  and all the other fathers that just wanna be with their child.

Next, I would like to take some time to talk to my little man because i haven’t had a chance:

“Hey little man I’m your daddy and I havent been able to see you yet, but I want you to know that even though you haven’t had the chance to be with me, I love you so very much and you’re the most important thing in my life and im going to do whatever it may take to be with you.

See one day me and mommy met and I thought it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me.n I loved her and couldn’t wait to start a family with her.

So we started and we got you, and even though I loved your mother very much and wanted to be with her the rest of my life, it didn’t happen.

We had rough patches in our relationship, we let things fall us apart, and I hurt so much from it.

But I’m so happy that I made that choice because if I hadn’t, we
wouldn’t have had YOU,the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

Even though I thought your mother was the greatest thing; it wasnt. It was you baby boy. I’m so so so very happy that we had you

I love you so very much Dakota.

I will never be able to give up. I’m going to stand up for you, Dakota. I’m standing here fighting with ever thing I have to be with you and be apart of your life.

Because the way I feel is I need you and you need me. We need each other to bein each others’ lives.

I love you Dakota James. You just have to be patient. I will be with you!

Love your Daddy – See you soon!”

Now I would like to take some time to say some things.

I have hurt so much through this situation.

It hurts me so much to know that I’m not with him and I ask myself things like, “Have I done something wrong?”

And the answer is NO.

I haven’t done anything to deserve it, and YES, I can be there for my son and take care of him.

Fathers keep fighting! You deserve to be a part of your child’s life .

STAND UP!!!!

Keep standing and saying, “I won’t let it break me and give up hope on being apart of your childs’ life.

Maybe it’s not for you but I will not, won’t, nor ever be able to
give up.

Don’t lose hope.  It’s there and always has been.

So, we stand together!!!!

We fight!!!!

And together, we will prevail!!!!

Matthew

Tennessee

What Does It Actually Mean To Be A Champion For Parents And Children?

Well, here’s what we think it means:

  • It means standing up for what’s right by speaking with deeds; not lip service.
  • It means leading by example.
  • It means being a role model for your kids and those around you.
  • It means standing up for those who are too weak or too afraid to stand-up for themselves.

The Truth Is…

Most of your friends, colleagues, and maybe even your family probably won’t help you out with Family Law reform.

Because let’s be fair.

Some have their own problems to worry about, and our cause simply isn’t relevant to them so it’s not on their radar as important.

Others, (probably more than you think) are against equal parenting because they have a lot to lose if reforms are effected.

So they’re not going to help you, even if they won’t admit this and be honest with you about it.

And some folks may empathize with you and really want reforms; but they’re too afraid to take public stand for fear of antagonizing an Ex and finding themselves underneath the punishing heel of the Family Court.

Seriously, there are a lot of nice people who are simply too scared to come forward.

But, Check This Out…

Did you know that statistically, 8.15% of your Facebook friends WILL be happy to help – and that all you need to do is ask them to do it?

If we’re going to get the changes we want, the very first thing to do is gather us all together so we can speak with one voice – loud and clear.

And thankfully, this way easier to do than our opposition wants you to think it is – Seriously, don’t listen to them, because this is not hard.

Because We’re Not Asking You To Make A Career Out Of This Cause.

We’re just asking you to show your kids and everyone else what it means to have the integrity to stand up for others and do what’s right; regardless of your personal circumstances.

We’re asking you to make a powerful point by speaking with what you do; not with what you say you’ll do.

Are you with us?

I hope so 🙂

Warmest Regards,

Michael

P.S. If you want a way you can help right now, and do so in 5 minutes or less, then PLEASE CLICK HERE!.