Buck County Courier

Family court a misnomer

No justice for fathers: Where every day is mother's day

By ATHONY MARIANI
Buck County Courier
Sunday, April 7, 2002

Family court. What could we say about it? I feel a name change is in order. It should be referred to as mother's court, since every day in family court seems to be mother's day.

Fathers rarely seem to receive any justice there. Why? Because of the many deadbeat dads of the past? How is this fair to all of the good fathers who fulfill their parental and financial obligations? It is not fair! This so-called system of justice is in need of a major overhaul.

Any good father who has ever had the misfortune of appearing in family court knows what I'm talking about. The moment he enters the building he is regarded as a deadbeat by the court. Has it ever occurred to the court that the father is the one being abused and/or taken advantage of by the mother? And that the mother is manipulating the system? There is such a thing as a deadbeat mother.

The scales of justice are supposed to be balanced. But in family court they are tipped so far to the mothers that it is virtually impossible for fathers to receive fair treatment. Judges have the power to maintain fairness within each case that comes before them, but seldom do. Shamefully, perhaps they lack the compassion to preside over family court fairly, and all that gets considered is how much money a father earns. We can thank the lawyers for that, but let us remember that judges were once and still are jurists who helped make the system of family court the cesspool of incompetence it now is.

A father's rights are constantly and consistently neglected and abused. He is held hostage and rendered helpless by a system that professes itself to be fair, serving in the best interests of all involved, but is instead equivocal and full of hypocrisy.

To fully appreciate the above, consider the following:

A father is not allowed to claim his children on his income tax, nor is he allowed to deduct the support he pays, regardless of how much more than 50 percent he pays. This also applies to day-care fees. The privilege automatically goes to the mother.

A mother can claim that she pays someone less than the actual cost of day care, with only a hand-written note as proof, and the father can be obligated for at least 50 percent of the cost. This is acceptable to the court.

A father is obligated to provide health and dental benefits for his children, but the mother is not always obligated to use them wherever and whenever possible. If a doctor stops accepting the insurance coverage, the mother should be obligated to find a participating doctor immediately.

If a father remarries and has more children, and should need to get a part-time job to cover all of his expenses, because of the exorbitant amount of support placed on him each month, the mother can file for an increase in support. Shouldn't the father be able to provide for all of his children equally? The courts feel only the first of his children count.

A mother can use her children as an excuse to minimize her work schedule and earnings capacity, which in turn increases the amount of support the father must pay each month. But if the father needed to minimize his work schedule due to an issue on his part, the court would tell him to adjust his schedule and/or lifestyle to maintain his earnings capacity. Why won't the court tell the mother the same?

A father is always expected to give in to the demands of the mother, even when they are inappropriate and/or not obligatory. The courts pressure the fathers to give in to these demands by having the attitude of, "well, sir, it is only a few times a year," or "it is only a small amount of money, and you are employed full time." If a father attempts to stand up for himself, and refuses to be taken advantage of, the courts tell him he is in contempt, and is wasting the court's time.

When will the courts realize that it is the system that is in contempt, and that the system continually wastes the father's time by refusing to recognize his rights?

If a father needs to adjust his visitation schedule due to a job-related incident, and the mother is not in agreement, he can be found in contempt. Is a father supposed to place the job that affords him the ability to pay his support in jeopardy to satisfy a mother's whim? The court seems to think so.

A mother can schedule all of a child's activities on the father's visitation days, and the father is obligated to take the child to them. So instead of having quality time with his child, he becomes a taxi service for the mother.

When is it enough? Where is the limit to how much can be taken from a father? Where is the limit to how much abuse he must accept? Where does the court-sanctioned extortion end, and the father's rights begin?

I urge all good fathers, divorced and/or unwed, to take a stand against this travesty known as family court. The system and the laws governing it must be changed.

Contact our representatives and demand that they address the need for a more equal system of parental responsibility. Advise our representatives that if they do not address these issues, we will address them at the voting booths.

Anthony Mariani, Levittown, has been a resident of Bucks County for 26 years and works as a sales manager.