Friday, July 07, 2006

Enriching Some Women and Ruining Others

Top Ten Things I've Learned as a Second Wife

bridal couple by "janetb"

1. All people are created equal, but we don't remain so. At some point, some people become more entitled than others. And remain so.
2. The "justice system" is misnamed. There is precious little justice in our system. Politics, bribes, self-aggrandizement, and agendas are everywhere. Justice is hiding in the closet from them.
3. "Firsts" are priority. Not in every case, no, but no judge has ever cut alimony to the rich first wife, so the innocent children of the second marriage can have a fighting chance. My own children were used as a liability to my husband when his ex-wife decided she only wanted to work part-time.
4. Guilt is a terrible justification. "How could you leeeeeeave me?" and the like has cost men more money than all monster trucks combined.
5. "Judicial discretion" is the broadest term I've ever heard. There is nearly infinite judicial discretion in our system, yet no judicial accountability. Judges and courts are "rated" by how many of their decisions are overturned, so the appellates will decline to overturn in the name of "judicial discretion."
6. Nice guys often do finish last. Everyone else tramples them.
7. If anyone gives a damn, hang on tight to them. True friends and loved ones — people who will stand by you — are precious beyond words.
8. It's not the first marriage that's for love. That was his practice run. It's this one, that's withstood so much, that was for love.
9. You don't marry for money; you divorce for it. Dr. Sanford Braver, as quoted at MenWeb, says, "on average, mothers are more satisfied with divorce settlements than fathers," and "75 percent of fathers thought it [the court system] was slanted in favor of mothers — and more than a quarter of mothers agreed!" In an informal survey here at SecondWivesCafe, 63% of the ex-wives had more disposable income than the ex-husbands.
10. Finally, I didn't have A CLUE what I was getting into! 'Nuff said.

Stepmoms Get Dumped on with Dads

Ask any family therapist, and they’ll agree: the stepmother generally has the most challenging role in these new families. There are plenty of reasons for this, starting with history. One research group found some 900 stories referring to the concept of an “evil stepmother,” the most well known of these “Snow White” and “Cinderella.” Certainly there are stepmothers that do terrible things (as there are biological mothers that do). And the myth is becoming less acceptable as more and more women take on the stepmother role. But it’s still true that stepmothers have an uphill battle on almost every front.

The role of a stepmother is exceedingly complex. A stepmom can get whiplash trying to negotiate her way around competing interests and attempting to find a path through veritable mazes of paradox. Stepmoms often have all of the responsibilities of parenting (think cooking, cleaning, laundry) but none of the legal rights. Stepmoms may constantly be trying to find the middle ground between being a child’s pal and being a disciplinarian. Those who feel no love for their stepchildren are seen as cold; those who do can be accused of “trying to take the place of the biological mother.” In short, being a stepmom means pleasing some of the people only some of the time.

A stepparent’s role in a family is unique in that it is born of loss. A child has lost a natural parent due to death or divorce; the natural parent may be in the child’s life all the time, or may be gone, but a child’s dreams of having “the perfect family” have been shattered, and a stepmom is the living proof of that fact.

A stepmom’s relationship with the biological mother can range from friendly to neutral to downright hostile.

“I consider myself very lucky,” says Claire, whose household contains her two children and her husband’s two children, all under the age of nine. “At first, my stepchildren’s biological mother was really angry. But over time she realized that I take good care of the kids, and now we are best friends.”

Not everyone is so fortunate.

“When I first got married I had this fantasy that the biological mother and I would be friends and would co-parent this child together,” says Kyra. “Now, several therapists later, our two households can communicate only via lawyer -– and even now there are blowups. I wish that she could at least appreciate that her son and I have a loving relationship, but I sometimes think she’d rather that I be a terrible person to give her an excuse for hating me.”

Lynnette, the custodial stepmom of three elementary school children, had a similar experience when her stepchildren’s biological mother lost custody of them.

“I didn’t know how to function being the object of such intense and systematic hatred,” she says, but adds, “the children were a little unruly, but they are wonderful -– sweet, absolutely dear.”

Relationships between stepparents and stepchildren can vary greatly. There truly are some children that “only a mother could love,” and there are stepmothers that behave badly and give their stepchildren good reason to dislike them. Sometimes a stepmom tries her best, but is faced with a “team” made up of her husband and stepchildren, against which she’s always losing.

Other stepmoms and stepkids just “click.”

“I love my stepdaughter as if she is my own,” says Rebekkah. “She’s sweet, smart, funny, pretty, and talented. We actually enjoy being together, and she’s never given me that ‘You’re not my real mom’ crap. But I give so much of the credit to her, for being the kind of person she is – frankly, she’s an easy kid to love.”

A big reason why the rate of divorce among second marriages is extraordinarily high is that the husband and wife often argue over the children. Jane is a clinical social worker and a stepmom as well. She knows from personal experience how important it is to keep the marital relationship strong. “My husband and I have always known that we were together because we loved each other, not because we wanted a pseudo-family,” she says.

Jane emphasizes the need for the children’s father to promote the stepmom as a parent figure within the household, deserving of respect. “When I would have a little struggle,” says Jane, who has two stepchildren, “I was supported by my husband. Still, it took time to acclimate.”

Many husbands, she says, want their wives to be pals with the children –- an unrealistic wish. And many “experts” on stepparenting say that stepmoms should never discipline their stepkids. But discipline is not punishment; it’s a form of teaching and can be done in a positive way.

“‘Discipline’ comes from the word ‘disciple,’” Jane says. “It’s about directing them in the way they should go. Children need the adults in their lives to be parents, not friends.”


Teresa Paprock is a freelance writer, co-author of two books, and the editor of a parenting magazine in the Midwest, as well as the stepmom of a 13-year-old boy.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Let Fathers In - They Want In. They Deserve In

in 2003 the legislature created the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood to identify obstacles that impede fathers' involvement in their children's lives and devise strategies to remove them. The Council's report will be released next month. Its two central recommendations involve family law and child support.

"The Council's first recommendation is to reform the family law system to eliminate anti-father gender bias and facilitate responsible father involvement...A related problem identified by the Council is the scarcity of affordable and pro-bono legal services for low-income fathers. The state represents custodial parents free of charge in child support matters, and many programs provide free legal aid to mothers. By contrast, when a father seeks to enforce his visitation rights, block a move, or dispute a questionable child support arrearage, he is on his own...

"Many Illinois fathers who can play an important and positive role in their children's lives face needless obstacles. Policies based on blaming and punishing dads may make good political sound bites, but they are counterproductive for society, and hurtful to children and the fathers they love and need. The Council believes it's time for policymakers to take a fresh look at dads."

Needless Suffering by Children

"...according to a long-term study conducted in the United States and in New Zealand and published in Child Development, a father's absence greatly increases the risk of teen pregnancy. The study found that it mattered little whether the child was rich or poor, black or white, born to a teen mother or an adult mother, or raised by parents with functional or dysfunctional marriages. What mattered was dad.

"A Journal of Marriage and Family study found that the presence of a father was five times more important in predicting teen drug use than any other sociological factor,
including income and race. A published Harvard review of four major studies found that, accounting for all major socioeconomic factors, children without a father in the home are twice as likely to drop out of high school or repeat a grade as children who live with their fathers.

A Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency study concluded that fatherlessness is so predictive of juvenile crime that, as long as there was a father in the home, children of poor and wealthy families had similar juvenile crime rates.

"Adult children of divorce realize dads are important. A published Arizona State University study found that more than two-thirds believed that, after divorce, 'living equal amounts of time with each parent is the best arrangement for children.'"

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Plain Truth

The rates of the four major youth pathologies--teen pregnancy, teen drug abuse, school dropouts and juvenile crime--are tightly correlated with fatherlessness, often more so than with any other socioeconomic factor.

For example, according to a long-term study conducted in the United States and in New Zealand and published in Child Development, a father’s absence greatly increases the risk of teen pregnancy. The study found that it mattered little whether the child was rich or poor, black or white, born to a teen mother or an adult mother, or raised by parents with functional or dysfunctional marriages. What mattered was dad.

A Journal of Marriage and Family study found that the presence of a father was five times more important in predicting teen drug use than any other sociological factor, including income and race. A published Harvard review of four major studies found that, accounting for all major socioeconomic factors, children without a father in the home are twice as likely to drop out of high school or repeat a grade as children who live with their fathers. A Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency study concluded that fatherlessness is so predictive of juvenile crime that, as long as there was a father in the home, children of poor and wealthy families had similar juvenile crime rates.

Adult children of divorce realize dads are important. A published Arizona State University study found that more than two-thirds believed that, after divorce, "living equal amounts of time with each parent is the best arrangement for children."

All family law and legislative battles over child custody issues involve the same fight--fathers want more time with their children, and their opponents fight to limit their role.

For example, several major branches of the National Organization for Women, including New York and Michigan, have recently issued Action Alerts against Shared Parenting bills. These Alerts rallied NOW’s supporters against moderate legislative attempts to help dads remain a part of their children’s lives after divorce or separation. NOW’s playbook is simple—portray divorced dads as a threat to their children’s well-being.

In this there is great irony—according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' new report Child Maltreatment 2004, when one parent is acting without the involvement of the other parent, mothers are almost three times as likely to kill their children as fathers are, and are more than twice as likely to abuse them. Nevertheless, in both New York and Michigan NOW’s scare tactics succeeded.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


"I was scared." Fine if you're in the woods looking at a bear, but what about when you try to hit an innocent human being with your car?

Assistant U.S. attorney backs over her boyfriend, twice

The January 7, 1999, issue of the Denver Post reported that an assistant United States attorney, Stacey L. Ross, age 34, was charged with first-degree assault for allegedly running over her live-in boyfriend twice. Her 26-year old partner suffered a lacerated liver, dislocated shoulder, and other injuries. Apparently he tried to stop her from leaving because he didn't think she was in any condition to drive after an argument on New Years Eve.

He was standing behind the car when she backed over him the first time. He was then on his hands and knees in a daze in the driveway when she backed over him again. Sheriffs deputies found him pinned beneath a Mazda driven by Ms. Ross.

Her defense attorney claimed he was threatening her, that she was terrified, and trying to get away. One may reasonably ask if that were so, why did she back over him the second time?

Ms. Ross, who had been with the U.S. attorney's office since September, 1997, was reported to be on leave from her job.

Violence a Double-Edged Sword?

Why do we view violence against women as particularly heinous and violence against men as permissible?

Why is violence in any form simply not contrued as disgusting. Why is it acceptable to see a male victim of violence but not a female victim of violence?

Is a female victim of domestic violence easier to pity when she's attacked by a heterosexual male partner instead of a homosexual female partner? What's the difference. Are not both instances horrifying?

The NY Times ran an article today called Living to Tell ( about a book written by a woman who was unforgivably and heinously attacked and assaulted by a man using both a pickup truck and axe on June 27, 1977. The two were camping. There is absolutely no excuse for this attack. None whatsoever.
The following is an excerpt from the article:

"Jentz needs this controlled calm because she is not merely, with this book, condemning her attacker. She is condemning American culture, one of easy violence that glorifies "the badass outlaw," that values "self-gratification, impulsivity and irresponsibility, and rewards preening narcissism." She is condemning violence against women and a society-wide indifference toward its ubiquity, what she calls our "passive complicity."

Sorry - "society-wide indifference toward its [violence towards women] ubiquity..."? And what constitutes indifference? Anyone would be sick to their stomach to read the details of her attack. But how is violence against women any more heinous or repugnant than violence against men?

I would like to ask Ms. Jentz if this instance is any less deplorable:

"Gold Coast woman Jeanette Anne Cameron, 46, pleaded guilty in the Queensland Supreme Court to three counts of fraud and one count of grievous bodily harm with intent.

Supreme Court Justice Margaret White today sentenced Cameron to eight years jail.

The court was told that on April 12, 2004, Cameron's partner, Brian Edwards Spencer, suffered a stroke and entrusted Cameron with $3500 cash to mind from his concreting business.

Instead of banking it, as she promised Mr Spencer she would do, Cameron kept the money for herself.

Furthermore, the court was told, friends of Mr Spencer gave Cameron $2200 that they owed Mr Spencer, but instead of banking it, she kept the money.

When Mr Spencer was released from hospital he went to live with Cameron, who nursed him back to health while assuring him his money wasn't too far away.

During this time, Mr Spencer was giving Cameron rent money for their Gold Coast property, but Cameron wasn't banking it and eventually the pair was served an eviction notice.

On November 26, 2004, the day Mr Spencer was due to pick up his "deposited" money from the bank, Cameron approached Mr Spencer from behind while he was having breakfast and smashed him in the head with a hammer.

She hit him at least twice, possibly three times, the court was told.

Mr Spencer managed to wrest the hammer from her, but not before he had suffered a fractured skull.

"This was a despicable attack on a helpless man," said Justice White.

The court was also told Mr Spencer was not the only person from whom Cameron stole.

In May and June of 2002 she stole a credit card from a previous tenant of the house she was renting and ran up debts totalling $3846 on items of clothing, luxury goods and sporting equipment."

Man4Abuse and Harrassment

Nick Tarzia, a Fathers & Families member who lives in Stamford, Connecticut, has filed a lawsuit against a former Massachusetts girlfriend who took out a fraudulent restraining order against him. He has charged her with defamation and slander, abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other wrongful actions. Jeffrey Denner, a well-known Boston attorney, represents Mr. Tarzia.

Mr. Tarzia is a successful businessman in Connecticut, and was Vice President of the Stamford Board of Education. He was also active in charitable and educational endeavors.

In September, 2003, he began dating C.M., a resident of Wellesley, Massachusetts. He noticed that she was violently jealous when she suspected possible relationships with other women. She spied into his private affairs, and occasionally swung at and hit him, according to his court complaint. He never retaliated in any manner.

Mr. Tarzia ended the relationship in late December, 2003. Over the next two months, C.M. telephoned him at least 80 times, threatening to tell other people that he had been convicted of using cocaine (contrary to the facts), as well as other threats and demands. Some of the calls were hang-ups used to harass him.

On February 26, 2004, Mr. Tarzia went about his business in Connecticut as usual. On that day, however, C.M. sought and obtained an exparte 209A restraining order in Dedham Court in Massachusetts. Among other things, she accused him of following her in his car.

At the ten day hearing before Judge Lynda Connelly, Mr. Tarzia presented at least ten sworn affidavits from individuals who had observed him in and around Stamford, Connecticut the entire day. He also presented store receipts with date and time indicating the same thing. Nevertheless, Judge Connelly granted the restraining order.

At considerable expense, Mr. Tarzia returned to court in October, 2004. At the hearing, C.M. admitted that some of her prior sworn statements were false. Moreover, Mr. Tarzia was able to produce witnesses and documentation in support of his case, including cell phone records. The cell phone records indicate that C.M. telephoned him at least twice on February 26 (the day she obtained the restraining order). More important, they indicate the physical location of the cell phone when used, and these showed without question that he was in the Stamford area the entire day. The Dedham District Court vacated the restraining order (something that might not be easy today, as a result of the terrible recent decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court in Mitchell v. Mitchell, of which we recently informed our readership.)

In the meantime, however, someone had leaked information about the claimed drug conviction and the restraining order to the Stamford newspaper. Mr. Tarzia was forced to resign from the Stamford Board of Education because of the false allegations and damage to his reputation.

He is now fighting back in court.

Fortunately for Mr. Tarzia, he has not shared a home, assets or children with C.M. If he did, he could not possibly retaliate against her spiteful actions without adverse consequences in the family court, typically, that he was "controlling," or was trying to harass her. Moreover, any money damages he might win from her would only come back out of his own pocket later, when the court found that her impoverishment required him to give her more assets, child support or alimony.

Somehow, the Massachusetts courts must get serious about the harm that is done by fraudulent restraining orders. In addition to the obvious harm to Mr. Tarzia, those people who truly need protection from an intimate partner are imperiled when the time of the police and courts is wasted on fraudulent cases such as this.

Equality That Isn't

There are more women in college, then men. Let's really think about this for a moment. This means - NECESSARILY - that of all the people corporations will have to recruit from, there will be a very good chance that more recruits will be women than men. Think of how powerful education is. It is the stepping stool to good, well-paying employment. Without education, well-paying employment is extremely challenging if not all together impossible. Look at the minorities in this country: blacks, hispanics, etc. They have been given sub-standard education for decades and their comparatively lower earning power, lower-paying jobs, and lack of representation in the professional fields reflects this.

How long until the lower proportion of well-educated men and higher proportion of well-educated women impacts the corporate world. It only follows that even more and more women will be making money AT LEAST comparable to men and the trend reflects that at some point the vast numbers of college-educated women will result in women, as a class, having better career opportunities than men.

The dual-income family has been the standard FOR A LONG TIME. With women as educated OR MORE educated than some men, earning just as much, or more, and having well-paying careers, WHY ARE MEN PAYING 90% OF THE CHILD-SUPPORT EXPENSES, especially given the fact that should a woman decide to have a child out of wedlock (1 out of 3 births are out of wedlock) her decision to have the child results in someone else paying half of their take home pay in child support for the next 20 years!

Is there any decision you or I have the luxury of making that results in someone else paying for our decision to the tune of hundreds of thousands for 18 years?!?!? I mean a married and divorced couple is one thing, but 1 in 3 out of wedlock births means that many women are CHOOSING to have their child in a relationship that could dissolve tomorrow or could already be dissolved and yet, while the decision to have the child is their's alone, the obligation to pay for it is seemingly his alone - does that sound incongruent to you? It does to me.

PBS filmed a fathersandfamilies meeting recently. There were a surprising amount of men that were stay at home dads FOR YEARS while their wives ran dental practices, small businesses, worked as executives, lawyers, etc. And when they divorced, the women received custody of the children and the man was forced to pay child support to the tune of $12,$1300/month when he hasn't worked for years and when HE WAS THE PRIMARY CAREGIVER!

It's a lot more prevalent than most realize. The news doesn't cover it, but if you dig into the statistics, the truth emerges.

British newspapers have been reporting on a baby-gap in England. Women aren't having children or are having them MUCH later in life because they can have their own careers and make middle to upper-middle class income.

It's time we realized than men and women are just equal human beings and that divorce means 50-50 split on EVERYTHING from assets to responsibility for child care.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Reservists Do Battle in Family Court

Most reservists called upon to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan have paid a big price: a significant reduction of their wages as they transferred from civilian to military jobs, separation from their loved ones, and of course the risk of battle wounds or death. Regrettably, on their return home, those who are divorced fathers could face other grievous penalties: loss of their children, financial ruin, prosecution as "deadbeat dads" and even jail.

Child-support orders for reservists are usually based on their civilian wages. When they are called up to active duty that burden doesn't decrease. Few can get court modification before they leave, modifications are seldom granted anyway, and even if a father applied for modification before deployment the debt continues to grow until the case is decided much later. Military fathers cannot get relief when they return because federal law forbids courts from reducing child-support debt retroactively. Once the arrearage reaches $5,000, the father becomes a felon subject to imprisonment and forfeiture of his driver's license, professional licenses and passport.

Likewise, there is no forgiving of interest and penalties on child-support debt even though it is sometimes incurred as a result of human or computer errors. States have a financial incentive to refuse to reduce obligations because the federal government rewards states with cash for the "deadbeat dad" dollars they collect.

Laws granting deployed service personnel protection from legal actions at home date back decades, but they are ignored in family court. Child kidnapping laws do not protect military personnel on active duty from having their ex-wives relocate their children.

This injustice to reservists serving in Iraq and Afghanistan should be remedied by Congress and state legislatures before more fathers meet the fate of Bobby Sherrill, a father of two from North Carolina, who worked for Lockheed Martin Corp. in Kuwait before being captured and held hostage by Iraq for five terrible months. The night Sherrill returned from the Persian Gulf he was arrested for failing to pay $1,425 in child support while he was held captive.

In February, a Wilkes-Barre, Pa., judge sentenced 28 men to jail for failure to pay small amounts of child support, one as little as $322. One common punishment for falling behind in court-ordered payments is to seize a man's driver's license. This can cost him his job. Yet he is still required to make child-support payments and can be thrown in jail if that proves to be impossible.

The New York Times recently exposed the ridiculous case of truck driver Donald Gardner, who was left penniless after a 1997 car accident put him in the hospital for three years. When he tried to return to work, he found that the state had suspended his driver's license because he owed $119,846 in child support.

The Times reported that, as of 2003, fathers allegedly owed $96 billion in child support. However, 70 percent is owed by men who earn less than $10,000 a year or have no wage earnings at all, so we have a $3 billion government bureaucracy working to get blood out of a turnip.

The most bizarre part of the system is that child- support payments are not required to be spent on children and are not based on any estimates of their needs or expenses. Support orders come from court- created formulas based on the income of the father, while the mother is allowed to treat child support like any other entitlement, such as welfare or alimony.

Although there are no official statistics, it is estimated that more than 100,000 fathers are jailed per year for failing to make child-support payments. Another perverse feature of the system is that child- support payments are in no way related to whether a father is allowed to see his children or whether his visitation rights are enforced.

Debtors' prisons were common in colonial times, but they were abolished by the new United States government, one of the great improvements made on English law. Then the new nation adopted bankruptcy laws to allow people a fresh start when they are overwhelmed by debt. However, child- support debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

The Bradley Amendment, named for former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.Y., takes us back to the cruel days of debtors' prisons. It requires that a child-support debt cannot be retroactively reduced or forgiven, and states enforce this law no matter what the change in a father's income, no matter if he is sent to war or locked up in prison, no matter if he is unemployed or hospitalized or even dead, no matter if DNA proves he is not the father, and no matter if he is ever allowed to see his children. Charles Dickens famously said, "The law is an ass."

Suicide on Courthouse Steps

By Glenn Sacks

A distraught father struggling with overdue child support obligations and adverse family court decisions committed suicide on the steps of the downtown San Diego courthouse Monday. Angrily waving court documents, 43 year-old Derrick Miller walked up to court personnel at the entrance, said "You did this to me," and shot himself in the head.

Miller is one of 300,000 Americans who have taken their own lives over the past decade--as many Americans as were killed in combat in World War II. America is in the throes of a largely unrecognized suicide epidemic, as suicide has become the eighth leading cause of death in the United States today, and the third leading cause of death among adolescents. All Americans recognize that our country is rife with violent crime, but few know that 50% more Americans kill themselves than are murdered.

Who is committing suicide?

For the most part, men. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, males commit suicide four times as often as females do, and have higher suicide rates in every age group. There are many risk factors for suicide, including substance abuse and mental illness, but the two situations in which men are most likely to kill themselves are after the loss of a job, and after a divorce.

Because our society strongly defines manhood as the ability to work and provide for one's loved ones, unemployed men often see themselves as failures and as burdens to their families. Thus it is not surprising that while there is no difference in the suicide rate of employed and unemployed women, the suicide rate of unemployed men is twice that of employed men.

It is for this reason that economic crises generally lead to male suicide epidemics. During the Midwest farm crisis of the 1980s, for example, the suicide rate of male farmers tripled. A sharp increase in male suicide occurred after the destruction of Flint, Michigan's 70 year-old auto industry, as documented in the disturbing 1989 film "Roger and Me." Some suicide experts fear a rise in suicide related to our current economic downturn.

The other most common suicide victims are divorced and/or estranged fathers like Derrick Miller. In fact, a divorced father is ten times more likely to commit suicide than a divorced mother, and three times more likely to commit suicide than a married father. According to Los Angeles divorce consultant Jayne Major:

"Divorced men are often devastated by the loss of their children. It's a little known fact that in the United States men initiate only a small number of the divorces involving children. Most of the men I deal with never saw their divorces coming, and they are often treated very unfairly by the family courts."

According to Sociology Professor Augustine Kposowa of the University of California at Riverside, "The link between men and their children is often severed because the woman is usually awarded custody. A man may not get to see his children, even with visitation rights. As far as the man is concerned, he has lost his marriage and lost his children and that can lead to depression and suicide."

There have been a rash of father suicides directly related to divorce and mistreatment by the family courts over the past few years. For example, New York City Police Officer Martin Romanchick, a Medal of Honor recipient, hung himself after being denied access to his children and being arrested 15 times on charges brought by his ex-wife, charges the courts deemed frivolous. Massachusetts father Steven Cook, prevented from seeing his daughter by a protection order based upon unfounded allegations, committed suicide after he was jailed for calling his four-year-old daughter on the wrong day of the week. Darrin White, a Canadian father who was stripped of the right to see his children and was about to be jailed after failing to pay a child support award tantamount to twice his take home pay, hung himself. His 14 year-old daughter Ashlee later wrote to her nation's Prime Minister, saying, "this country's justice system has robbed me of one of the most precious gifts in my life, my father."

We'll never know exactly why Derrick Miller took his life and if his suicide could have been prevented. What we do know is that male suicide is one of America's most serious public health issues, and it is time to address it.

Hunger Strike

Think how dire your situation must be to voluntarily starve yourself.

When your body is starving it begins to consume its own organs, causing irreparable, long-term damage, even if you are fed and brought back from starvation....

Canadian Father on Hunger Strike
(From Our Friends in the US with Glenn Sacks)

Canadian father Gerry Nicolas is now on his 9th day of hunger strike in front of the Quebec Provincial Court of Justice in Gatineau. Nicolas has a six year-old boy and a four year-old girl. He only gets every other weekend “visitation,” and says his ex-wife often interferes or eliminates even that. He says that at one point he went three months without seeing his children because of her interference. The police (of course) refuse to enforce the order.

Nicolas also says his children are being alienated from him. Nicolas is black, his ex-wife is Asian, and Nicolas claims his four year-old daughter told him her mother told her not to kiss him “because he’s black.”

Nicolas says he and his ex-wife both earn around $60 or $65 thousand dollars a year, but that he has lost his business and his savings and after his wages are garnisheed he is left with less than $300 a month to live on. He says he has been unable to get a court to resolve these issues, and is on hunger strike to try to force the court to give him a hearing.

To contact Gerry and give him encouragement, call him on his cell phone at 00 1 (819) 921-1877. His email, which his sister is retrieving and printing out for him, is

Just Maybe We Should Review

Basic Facts
  • According to the U.S. Census Current Population Report on Custodial Mothers and Fathers and their Child Support:

    - About 5 of every 6 custodial parents were mothers (84.4 percent) and 1 in 6 were fathers (15.6 percent), proportions statistically unchanged since 1994

  • According to a 1999 report of the Department of Health and Human Services:

    -Girls without a father in their life are two and a half times as likely to get pregnant and 53 percent more likely to commit suicide.

    -Boys without a father in their life are 63 percent more likely to run away and 37 percent more likely to abuse drugs.

    -Both girls and boys are twice as likely to drop out of high school, twice as likely to end up in jail and nearly four times as likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.

  • In 2003, 20,952 entries for divorce were filed in Massachusetts courts.
  • According to the Census Bureau's 2002 Survey of Women and Men in the United States:

    -Men were more likely than women never to have been married (32 percent and 25 percent, respectively).

    -Women were more likely than men to be divorced or separated (13 percent compared with 10 percent), and much more likely to be widowed (10 percent compared with 3 percent).

  • 75 percent of custodial mothers move at least once within four years after separation or divorce, according to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Report on Family Law: Relocation of Custodial Parents.

  • The following are recent statistics about children of divorce and separation from the newsletter Common Sense & Domestic Violence, 1998 01 30

    Allegations of family violence are the weapon-of-choice in divorce strategies. Lawyers, and paralegals in women's shelters, call them "The Silver Bullet". False abuse allegations work effectively in removing men from their families. The impact that the removal of fathers has on our children is horrific.

    The Impact on our Children Inter-spousal violence perpetrated by men is only a small aspect of family violence. False abuse allegations are only a small tile in the mosaic of vilifying the men in our society. They serve well in successful attempts to remove fathers from the lives of our children.

    Here are some statistics resulting from that, which show more of the whole picture.
    • 79.6% of custodial mothers receive a support award
    • 29.9% of custodial fathers receive a support award.
    • 46.9% of non-custodial mothers totally default on support.
    • 26.9% of non-custodial fathers totally default on support.
    • 20.0% of non-custodial mothers pay support at some level
    • 61.0% of non-custodial fathers pay support at some level
    • 66.2% of single custodial mothers work less than full time.
    • 10.2% of single custodial fathers work less than full time.
    • 7.0% of single custodial mothers work more than 44 hours weekly.
    • 24.5% of single custodial fathers work more that 44 hours weekly.
    • 46.2% of single custodial mothers receive public assistance.
    • 20.8% of single custodial fathers receive public assistance.
    [Technical Analysis Paper No. 42 - U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services - Office of Income Security Policy]
    • 40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the fathers visitation to punish their ex-spouse. ["Frequency of Visitation" by Sanford Braver, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry]
    • 50% of mothers see no value in the fathers continued contact with his children. ["Surviving the Breakup" by Joan Berlin Kelly]
    • 90.2% of fathers with joint custody pay the support due.
    • 79.1% of fathers with visitation privileges pay the support due.
    • 44.5% of fathers with no visitation pay the support due.
    • 37.9% of fathers are denied any visitation.
    • 66% of all support not paid by non-custodial fathers is due to the inability to pay. [1988 Census "Child Support and Alimony: 1989 Series" P-60, No. 173 p.6-7, and "U.S. General Accounting Office Report" GAO/HRD-92-39FS January 1992]
    • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [U. S. D.H.H.S. Bureau of the Census]
    • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
    • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]
    • 80% of rapist motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14 p. 403-26]
    • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]
    • 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes [U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept., 1988]
    • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia Jail Populations and Texas Dept. of Corrections, 1992]
    • Nearly 2 of every 5 children in America do not live with their fathers. [US News and World Report, February 27, 1995, p.39]

    There are:
    • 11,268,000 total custodial mothers
    • 2,907,000 total custodial fathers
    [Current Populations Reports, US Bureau of the Census, Series P-20, No. 458, 1991]
    What does this mean? Children from fatherless homes are:
    • 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide,
    • 6.6 times to become teenaged mothers (if they are girls),
    • 24.3 times more likely to run away,
    • 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders,
    • 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions,
    • 10.8 times more likely to commit rape,
    • 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school,
    • 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager.
    (The calculation of the relative risks shown in the preceding list is based on 27% of children being in the care of single mothers.)

    AND — compared to children who are in the care of two biological, married parents — children who are in the care of single mothers are:
    • 33 times more likely to be seriously abused (so that they will require medical attention), and
    • 73 times more likely to be killed.["Marriage: The Safest Place for Women and Children", by Patrick F. Fagan and Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D. Backgrounder #1535.]

    According to U.S. Census Bureau and from the textbook: Diversity In Families, 7th edition, c. 2005, by Maxine Baca Zinn and D. Stanley Eitzen the following is true:

    •The disproportionate number of single-parent families headed by a woman is a consequence, first, of the relatively high divorce rate and the very strong tendency for divorced and separated women to have custody of their children. Second, there is the relatively high rate of never-married mothers (in 1960, 5 percent of US babies were born to unmarried mothers; in 2000, one-third were).

    •In 2001, 26 percent of the children living in single-parent families headed by women were poor, compared to 5 percent of children in two-parent families.

    •About 16 percent of all children living with a single parent reside with their father. In Eaton, Ingham, Clinton, and Ionia counties, 13,960 households were headed by a single parent in 2000, and about 2,200 of those households were headed by single fathers.