My charges against the divorce regime are extremely serious, and the language I use to describe it is strong. But all my allegations are backed with documentation and have never been refuted. The publications in which they appear are respected and credible journals with solid reputations, and their editors are not known to be extremists. Moreover, I am not the only one making these charges. Even aside from the testimonials of parents who have directly experienced its depredations (but who are seldom believed), here are the views of other eminent figures. None of these are “fathers’ rights” activists. Shouldn’t any area of government activity about which such prominent people are making such serious charges be the subject of an investigation or at least some public debate?
NB: Since 2005, Phyllis Schlafly, president of Eagle Forum and one of the most renowned public figures in America, has written assiduously and eloquently about the divorce industry in a series of syndicated columns. She uses language and makes charges at least as strong as mine. I could quote from virtually every line of her columns during this time. To see these columns, visit http://www.eagleforum.org/topics/fathers.
“It is remarkable that such a grossly unjust system has not been noticed. One explanation is that no one knows what happens…until it happens to them – and even then they can’t believe it. Any objections are dismissed as implausible.” Melanie Phillips, The Sex-Change Society: Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male (London: Social Market Foundation, 1999), p. 282.
“In the beginning, insiders dismissed [the stories], assuming them to be made up of disgruntled fathers who must have done something unspeakable, or else why would their children’s mothers have taken such extreme action? Because if things were as bad as these people say, wouldn’t we know about it already?” Maureen Freely, “A Secret World of Suffering Children,” The Independent, 18 October 2001.
“In recent years, fathers have been the subject of a tidal wave of critical thinking and punitive action…. If the past few decades have seen a systematic war against parents, the battles waged against fathers have been particularly ugly and fierce.” Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Cornel West, The War Against Parents: What We Can Do for America’s Beleaguered Moms and Dads (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), p. 173.
“Virtually every aspect of what I call the ‘bad divorced dad’ image has turned out to be a myth, an inaccurate and damaging stereotype. Not only is this myth seriously inaccurate, it has led to harmful and dangerous social policies.” Sanford L. Braver with Diane O’Connell, Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1998), p. 6. This book has been described as “probably the most important work of conservative social science in a decade.” Robert Locke, “Deadbeat Social Scientists,” FrontPageMagazine.com, 2 July 2001.
“Women are lone parents in 84% of cases not because men abandon their children, but because… the fathers have been constructively banished, with the collusion of the state, which encourages women to abuse the grotesque power we have conferred on them.” John Waters, Irish Times, 6 October 1998.
“Open season appears to have been declared now on men. The British government treats all absent fathers as feckless, even though some may be the blameless victims of destructive behavior by women…. Most divorces…are initiated by women. Many divorced fathers have their homes and children taken away from them and are all but destroyed. They are then clobbered by the Child Support Agency, which treats them as if they are the guilty party….
“Even if a father shares childcare equally with his ex-wife, he will have to pay the mother for the child’s upkeep. Moreover, the mother’s income won’t henceforth be taken into account. So even if she’s gone off with a man earning £100,000 a year, scooping up the family home and the children en route, her ex-husband will have to pay her – thus supporting behavior he may even believe is damaging his children….
“He may be deprived of all contact with his children by courts which stack the cards against him. The lord chancellor’s advisory board on family law has said that if wives allege domestic violence against their former husbands, the courts should stop them seeing their children. It is not uncommon, though, for women to make entirely spurious charges of violence against their ex-husbands just to prevent them from having access to their children. Lawyers say the courts are overwhelmingly disposed to believe them, even when there isn’t a shred of evidence.
“The amount of violence in marriage is small (most violence takes place between cohabitants or lovers). When violence does occur it is balanced between the sexes…. Most physical abuse of children is perpetrated by women.” Melanie Phillips, “The Rape Reform That Makes All Men Guilty,” Sunday Times, 4 July 1999.
“Another troubling new issue is Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the federal government’s child support collection and enforcement program. Originally designed to track down the welfare fathers of illegitimate children, the measure has increasingly targeted middle income households affected by divorce. There is mounting evidence that the system now encourages marital breakup and exacerbates fatherlessness by creating a winner-take-all game, where the losing parent–commonly a father wanting to save the marriage–is unfairly penalized by the loss of his children and by a federally enforced child support obligation. Here we find objectively false feminist views–the assumption that men are always the abusers and women are always the victims–driving public policy. And here we find still another newly indentured class of citizens–noncustodial parents–being squeezed financially by the state. If you think this an exaggeration, I refer you to no less an authority than Phyllis Schlafly, who calls this runaway federal law the most serious danger facing American families today.” Allan Carlson, “Indentured Families: Social Conservatives and the GOP: Can this Marriage be Saved?” Weekly Standard, 27 March 2006.
“Our common desperation seems to have produced the common delusion that experts actually exist who really can determine with the unerring instincts of a homing pigeon exactly where the best interests of the child lie, where the child should live, whether and how a child has been hurt, and who is unfit to be a parent at all, who should have the right and the duty to care for a child, who should see the child only under restricted conditions, and who should be kept away from the child altogether.
“Acceptance of their expertise has led us to trust professionals to make these decisions for the family court system. That means ultimately that we also grant them the power to make these decisions for our own families. The abstract need for society to protect its children becomes inevitably the rape of the rights of the real parents of individual children. Once again, the institutionalization of society’s desire to “do good” results in terrible harm for those in the path of the ‘do gooders.’
“The marriage of law and psychology has reached the heights of disproportionate power for the psychologists not just in the family courts but in all legal disputes in which a psychological matter is at issue. Judges buy the validity of the expertise of the confident psychological practitioner and no doubt welcome the opportunity to make their own decisions on some foundation other than personal opinion and bias.” Margaret Hagan, Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice (New York: HarperCollins, 1997), p. 234.
“The authorities will act quickly to ‘protect’ your children from you. They’ll curtail your visitation during their investigation; you’ll be restricted to being with your children only in the presence of a supervisor, and you’ll be ordered to pay the supervisor’s fees.” Jed Abraham, From Courtship to Courtroom (Evanston: Bloch, 1999), p. 6.
“You’ll watch them from afar as they grow up with the kinds of psycho-social problems that children who live with their fathers rarely have. You’ll watch from afar, and you won’t be able to do anything about it.” Abraham, From Courtship to Courtroom, p. 6.
“We see bizarre cases where abusive and violent mothers are given child custody to ‘save their motherhood. One sees fathers kept from the bedsides of dying children because their presence might upset the mother.” Peter Jensen, “New Laws on Child Custody Should Help Fathers,” Vancouver Sun, 18 December 2002.
“Washing their hands of judgements about conduct…the courts assume that all children should normally live with their mothers, regardless of how the women have behaved.” Yet if a mother has gone off to live with another man, does that not indicate a measure of irresponsibility or instability, not least because by breaking up the family and maybe moving hundreds of miles away from her children’s father she is acting against their best interests?” Melanie Phillips, The Sex-Change Society: Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male (London: Social Market Foundation, 1999), p. 275.
“We have found that who gets the children is by far the most important component in deciding who files for divorce.” Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas W. Allen, “These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers are Women,” American Economics and Law Review, vol. 2, issue 1 (Spring 2000), pp. 126-127, 129, 158 (original emphasis). Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee found roughly two-thirds of divorces were sought by women “in the face of opposition” from the husband. Second Chances: Men, Women, and Children a Decade After Divorce (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1989), p. 39. Constance R. Ahrons found “between two-thirds and three-quarters of all divorces are initiated by the wife.” The Good Divorce : Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart (New York: HarperPerennial, 1995), p. 92.
“Fifty-eight percent of men delayed their divorce because of concerns about their children. Far fewer women had this worry. … ‘Not believing in divorce’ was the next most important reason men cited. … The idea of an older man leaving his wife for a younger woman is ingrained in the American psyche — and that has created a misconception about divorce. … But…as this survey makes abundantly clear, women are more than willing to chart a new life for themselves if they’re in an unfulfilling marriage.” Elizabeth Enright, “A House Divided,” AARP The Magazine, July-August 2004, pp. 54, 57; “AARP The Magazine Study on Divorce Finds That Women are Doing the Walking,” AARP press release, 27 May 2004 (http://www.aarp.org/research/press/presscurrentnews/Articles/a2004-05-28-divorce.html).
“Ninety-one percent of women who have divorced say they made the decision to divorce, not their husbands.” Shere Hite, Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress (New York: Knopf, 1987), p. 459.
“The wife is the moving party in divorce actions seven times out of eight.” David Chambers, Making Fathers Pay: The Enforcement of Child Support (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 29.
“No matter how faithless, a wife who files for divorce can count on the state as an ally.” Bryce Christensen, “The Strange Politics of Child Support,” Society, vol. 39, no. 1 (November-December 2001), p. 65.
“In every other area of law, it aims to make people who have done wrong accept the consequences of their actions: Imagine saying if a burglar that he shouldn’t be blamed for his crime because it might stigmatise him and make him upset. Imagine saying of a neighbour who tears down the next door’s fence that he shouldn’t be held responsible and made to pay for the destruction because it would make it more difficult for the two of them to live next door to each other afterwards.” Melanie Phillips, “Death Blow to Marriage,” in Robert Whelan, Just a Piece of Paper? p. 15.
“What if American law refused to enforce business contracts and indeed systematically favored the party that wished to withdraw, on the grounds that “fault” was messy and irrelevant and exposed judges and attorneys to unpleasant acrimony…so that when disputes arose, thieves and owners would be left to work things out among themselves, because after all, one cannot legislate morality?” Maggie Gallagher, The Abolition of Marriage (Washington, DC: Regnery, 1996), p. 144, 149.
“The divorce laws…were reformed by unrepresentative groups with very particular agendas of their own and which were not in step with public opinion. All the evidence suggests that public attitudes were gradually dragged along behind laws that were generally understood at the time to mean something very different from what they subsequently came to represent.” Melanie Phillips, The Sex-Change Society, p. 261 (original emphasis). See a similar appraisal by Bryce J. Christensen, “Taking Stock: Assessing Twenty Years of ‘No Fault’ Divorce,” in Robert Whelan (ed.), Just a Piece of Paper? Divorce Reform and the Undermining of Marriage (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1995), pp. 58-59.
“When someone mentions the best interests of the child, it is code for the best interests of the mother.” Al Knight, “Another Blow to Marriage,” Denver Post, 20 June 2001.
“I represent your kids, but I don’t want to. Because I don’t love your children. I don’t even know them. It is a legal fiction that the law’s best interest is your children.” New Jersey Family Court Judge Robert Page, quoted in Stephen Barr “Refereeing the Ugliest Game in Town,” New Jersey Monthly, May 1998, pp. 52-55, 71-74.
“Family lawyers…maintain that justice has no place in their courts where their decisions are driven instead by questions of ‘need. Family court judges thus preside with equanimity over injustice.” Melanie Phillips, “Goodbye Lords, Hello the Dictatorship of the Judges,” Sunday Times, 14 November 1999.
“There is absolutely no credible evidence that these [methods] are valid predictors of which spouse will make the best primary parent. In fact, there is no evidence that there is a scientifically valid way for a custody evaluator to choose the best primary parent.” Sanford Braver, Divorced Dads, pp. 221-222 (original emphasis).
“Your average psychiatrist and psychologist are not adequately trained to do forensic evaluations on children. … People with no prior experience are now starting to do this work, holding themselves out as experts.” Forensic psychologist Stephen Herman, quoted in Richard T. Pienciak and Linda Yglesias, “Who Gets the Kids?” New York Daily News, 25 September 1998.
“Legal or not, a sitting state legislator ought to choose not to profit from state contracts. Legal or not, someone should have been willing to say ages ago that sitting legislators shouldn’t be receiving those regional child-support enforcement contracts.” John Brummett, “The Confession in Nick’s Denial,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 29 April 1999.
“A custody fight is a form of child abuse. Our process is about winners, losers, ownership, possession. We have a divorce system that encourages fighting, bitterness, children being caught in the middle.” Hoftstra University Law School professor Andrew Shepard, quoted in the New York Daily News, 25 September, 1998.
“These systems have become very efficient little cash machines, generating profits rather than working for the best interests of children and their families.” C. Jesse Green, interview with attorney Michael E. Tindall, Michigan Lawyers Weekly (http://www.michiganlawyersweekly.com/loty2000/tindall.htm; no date, accessed 1 May 2002).
“The system of adversarial attorneys, advocacy agencies, and judges constitutes an industry that deserves to be outlawed for crimes against humanity. … The divorce industry has to be dismantled, burned, and buried like the monster it is.” Kathleen Parker, Orlando Sentinel, 10 February 1999.
“Divorce is a great destroyer that is eating the heart out of society as well as savaging children’s lives. Its depredations will not be reversed given ever so many mediators or conciliators.” Patricia Morgan, “Conflict and Divorce: Like a Horse and Carriage?” in Robert Whelan (ed.), Just a Piece of Paper? Divorce Reform and the Undermining of Marriage (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1995), p. 32.
“If I complain to the presiding judge about Judge A, the good-old-boy network is going to kick in, and it’s going to hurt my client. … Family Court judges have tremendous latitude in making decisions, more so in some ways than in the other courts.” Attorney quoted in Paul Rubin, “Judge Not,” Phoenix New Times, 31 August 2000.
“The Domestic Relations and Juvenile Courts of Butler County foster a culture of secrecy, fear and judicial abuse that violates the most fundamental and sacred rights guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution — the rights of due process of the laws. … [Litigants] “are routinely excluded from court proceedings and deliberations, told to wait outside the hearing room in a hallway while their lives, personal property, children, and homes are divided up by strangers. … Nowhere is this judicial hypocrisy more dramatically illustrated than in the Court Rules of the Domestic Relations Court. These rules require placing personal information about people’s private lives in public records, which are easily available on the Internet, while blocking disclosure of what judge is assigned to the case. … The outrage is muted by an incestuous network of insiders who are spared the crucible of public scrutiny by a system that operates behind locked doors, disciplined by a real fear of being punished if the members ever break ranks and rail against the injustice they see daily. Michael A. Fox, A Culture of Secrecy, Fear, and Judicial Abuse: A Report on the Butler County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts (http://www.pacegroup.org/fox_report_without_doc.pdf, accessed 12 November 2004), pp. 2-3.