Family Lawless

I’ll admit up front; I don’t know all the facts of this case.

And I doubt we’ll ever really find them out.  This case has been jammed forcibly onto the radars of pretty much every person in the Twin Cities media and pundocracy for quite some time now, by parties – family law attorneys – who appear to be as inept as Heather Martens when it comes to shaping public opinion.

And so I’ll admit that I don’t know everything one needs to know about the case.

But if the facts are as the father has presented them (and given the exceedingly erratic behavior of the mother throughout this case, and, in my frank opinion, the retention of Michelle MacDonald as counsel, I’m inclined to believe the father) and the defendant brainwashed the children against the father?

If that’s the case?  If there’s ever been a case to justify waterboarding someone, this is it.

Any parent who brainwashes their children against their other parent has to look waaaaay up to see Nazi war criminals.  While I oppose the death penalty on principle, I think any parent who brainwashes and kidnaps the kids to deprive an otherwise-capable parent of access to their children deserves a death that violates the entire Bill of Rights, and maybe the ISIS Constitution too.

The English language has no word dark and vile enough to describe my hatred for such people.


I oppose the death penalty.  I oppose  it for one reason; the inevitability of executing the innocent.

It’s not that no case has ever made me want to see some one eaten by mice, of course.  Classic example; the Susan Smith case.  Smith was convicted twenty years ago of pushing her car, with her kids strapped into the back, into a lake to their deaths.  At the time she was alleged to be involved with another guy, and killed her boys to keep their father from getting custody.

She’s “setting the record straight“.

I read it.

I’ll stick with the mice.


You’ve heard the stories of the betrothed gay couples who’ve scoured the market for test cases waiting to happen – Christian photogs, bakers, florists and other vendors who politely tried to opt out of participating in ceremonies they don’t believe in.  They were sued into compliance or bankruptcy, or both.

And now, in Canada – a Christian jeweler who actually made the rings for a lesbian couple, who were favorably impressed with his work…

…until they discovered he didn’t personally believe in same sex marriage.  The idea of having their finely-crafted rings made by someone with impure thoughts – thoughtcrime! – sent them running to Big Gay Inquisition to smite the infidels.

Rod Dreher narrates:

Were this a Monty Python sketch and not a horrifying power play, the tendering conversation would presumably have proceeded like this: Customer: We are a lesbian couple who would like you to make us a wedding ring. Business owner: Okay. I do not support gay marriage, but I will serve you as anybody else. This, I understand, is how it works. Customer: You can’t deny me service simply because you hold different views from mine. Business owner: Indeed. I have no intention of doing so. Society is better off when our differences remain private. Customer: Okay, let’s do business. Business owner: Great. Customer: Your private views are disgusting. You can’t make me do business with you. Give me my money back or I’ll unleash the kraken. If this is to be our new standard — and time will tell — it would be useful to know what legal protection our recalcitrant firms will reasonably be able to recruit to their side. In both Canada and in the United States there already exists a pernicious imbalance in the supposedly free marketplace. If a browsing consumer doesn’t happen to like the politics or the race or the religion of a given business owner, he is quite free to decline to associate with it. Thus do some progressives like to skip Chick-Fil-A, an openly Christian business; thus do some conservatives prefer to avoid Apple, whose owner Tim Cook irritated them during the Indiana fight. By that very same law, however, it is strictly verboten for a business to discriminate against customers they themselves dislike — even if they feel that by fulfilling their legal obligations they will be violating their consciences. Are we really going to add to this already lopsided arrangement a general right to break contracts after the fact? Are we going to hand the integrity of our signed arrangements over to the whim of the mob? And if we are not, what are we to expect the government to do about those whose consciences now demand that they renege on their word?

Granted, it’s Canada.

On the other hand, it’s Canada – the prototype shop for all the stupid bits of social engineering leaking into the Western Hemisphere.

The Ultimate Inequity

Preface: I frequently joke that progressives have developed a habit of turning todays’ satire into tomorrow’s policy.

Conservatives have long known that, no matter what a family’s income level, the best way to stack the odds in a kid’s favor is to:

  • Have the kids in wedlock
  • Stay together
  • Actually raise the kids

Poor families that do this have kids who stand a decent chance of making it out of poverty.  Rich families who don’t often have kids that slide right back down the economic ladder.

You’d think this’d be something that no “progressive” would, or could, mess with.

And you’d be wrong; a couple of (naturally) Ivy League philosophers are pondering the notion that a strong, loving family background is just unfair:

‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

Once he got thinking, [philosopher Adam] Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

So, what to do?

According to Swift, from a purely instrumental position the answer is straightforward.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

Quite a few conservative critics stop with that quote – Swift doesn’t advocate abolishing the family or the role of parents (which isn’t to say he doesn’t support a radical redefinition of “family”, either).

But the “philosophers” (and the ABC reporter who wrote the story, Joe Gelonese) had a choice of angles to take: either “intact, involved families have a positive effect”, or “intact, involved families are unfair”.  And in the world, and with the media culture, we have today, the most depressing thing about this story is that it doesn’t surprise me they took the angle they did.

The Booming Legal Economy

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Ramsey County doesn’t use District Court Judges to hear Family Law cases, they use Referees who hold hearings, swear witnesses, take testimony, and recommends Findings and Conclusions for final Decree to be signed by the real judge.  Anybody out there interested in spend all day, every day, listening to divorcing couples bicker?  Oh, and you also get to wallow in domestic abuse and listen to excuses from juvenile delinquents.

On the other hand, it pays well.


The Second Judicial District has the following job opportunity available:

Referee (2 positions available)

Applications accepted until 4:30 p.m., March 27, 2015

How much worse than “having teenagers” could it be?


How debased is the English language, as it relates to politics in the US today?

The Democrats are chanting in unison that a bill regulating abortion is “extreme”.

No shock there.

What’s “extreme” is that it would ban abortion of fetuses after the 20th week of gestation.

20 weeks.  Five months.  Over halfway there.

More importantly, long after pain is known to register with the “fetuses” – and exactly two weeks earlier than children have survived premature delivery.

Two weeks.

When the “fetus” is fully formed in every particular; just not developed quite enough to survive on its own yet; 22 weeks involves working medical miracles; 24 weeks is difficult as hell and touch and go – but doable.

Note to infanticide supporters; say what you will about a “woman’s right to choose” – but when the “choice” involves something that is physically as well as morally indistinguishable from “a baby”, you’re not making any friends outside your echo chamber, provided they know what the actual story is.  Barring abortion of a “fetus” that is two weeks away from being a viable human being is not extreme.  Allowing it certainly is.




Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Courts struck down obsolete “one-man-one-woman” marriage laws because gays were treated unfairly.

Incest laws prevent birth defects . . . but gay couples don’t have that problem. So should gay cousins be allowed to marry? And what about Muslim cousin arranged marriages – shouldn’t we respect that culture?

Once you begin pulling out the foundation stones of the social framework . . . .

Joe Doakes

What, in all honesty, prevents any group of two or more people with legal standing to sign contracts from getting “married”, anymore?


When gay marriage activists sold the idea of same-sex marriage, their key points (other than the “if you disagree you are teh bigot!” that most of the lower-information supporters prattled endlessly) were:

  1. The idea that marriage is purely about raising children is obsolete – people who don’t intend to, or can’t, have children, are married all the time, even in churches. 
  2. With the idea of procreation left out of the equation, why, really, shouldn’t two people who love each other be able to be married?

This, of course, introduced some new questions; if, indeed, “love” is the basis for marriage, why can’t three or more people love each other enough to get married, by that same token? 

There was one other case I’ve been wondering about for the past few years; what kind of “love” do we mean, here? 

Who Wrote The Book Of Love?:  There are different kinds of love; the Bible breaks “love” down into three categories:

  • “Eros” – physical attraction
  • “Philos” – “brotherly” love, or deep friendship
  • “Agape” (pronounced:  “ogg-OPP-ay”):  unconditional love – usually associated with divinity, sometimes also of the “Greater love hath nobody that they lay down their life…” variety.

The Vapours:  With that in mind, gay groups in New Zealand are up in arms over a couple of guys – Travis McIntosh and Matt McCormick, who happen to be longtime utterly heterosexual pals – who got married as part of a radio station promotion. 

They are not amused: 

 Otago University Students’ Association Queer Support co-ordinator Neill Ballantyne, of Dunedin, said the wedding was an”insult” because marriage equality was a”hard fought” battle for gay people.

“Something like this trivialises what we fought for.” The competition promoted the marriage of two men as something negative,”as something outrageous that you’d never consider”, Mr Ballantyne said.

LegaliseLove Aotearoa Wellington co-chairman Joseph Habgood said the competition attacked the legitimacy of same-sex marriages.

“The point of this competition is that men marrying each other is still something they think is worth having a laugh at …

Both of these gentlemen bring up two responses:

Yuk It Up:  In a free society, marriage – no matter who is doing it – is always worth having a laugh at.  There is no right not to be offended. 

More seriously?:  Mr. Habgood’s organization’s name, “LegalizeLove”, should give you a hint here.

Gay activists convinced a plurality of representatives that “marriageable love” didn’t just involve people who practiced “Eros” in the heteronormative manner. 

So why must marriageable love include “Eros” (to say nothing of “Eros” between just two people) at all?  By the standard we’ve been convinced/forced to accept, all love is equal.  Why not “Philos?”

(And if the “Deep brotherly love” is only “love of Rugby”, as indeed seems to be the case?  Love is love, dammit!)

Cue The Outrage Industry:  Perhaps it’s time for “Philos” activists to take to the streets to fight for Pal Marriage.  To combat the “Homonormative” hatred that is denying rights to other people whose love for each other is no less valid than that of any gay couple. 


The Skewed Market

Childcare is hard to find in Minnesota – a state where daycare costs are already among the highest in the nation, per-capita.

And it’s even harder in Greater Minnesota.

Eight months before her due date, Angie Steinbach started calling day cares to reserve a spot for her baby.

Nobody had an opening as far as Marshall or Willmar — both a 45-minute drive away. Steinbach got on waiting lists “behind people who hadn’t even conceived yet,” she said.

When Steinbach’s boy was born, her husband — who had just earned a degree in computers — planned to stay home with their son. The couple didn’t find a way for them both to work until a relative tipped them to an opening at a child care in Granite Falls.

“You just don’t realize until you actually experience it firsthand just how bad the shortage is,” said Steinbach, community development director for the city of Montevideo.

Large parts of rural Minnesota don’t have enough child care for working families. Finding a place for newborns is especially difficult.

The piece does a fairly useful job of citing the economic problems that the shortage is causing.

What it doesn’t do is explain how the DFL’s strategy of raising the cost and crimping the supply of childcare with its daycare union jamdown is going to help anything.


The second-biggest problem this nation faces today – behind the fact that our financial system, left to run the way it is today, is going to crash sooner than later – is the fact that too much of our government operates outside the law.

Of course, that fact grabs headlines when Obama’s administration tramples the law to oppress conservative groups – and by “headlines”, we mean “not in the mainstream media”, but headlines nonetheless.

It even gets notice on the retail level when government’s agents – the cops – make up the law as they go along.

But in the long term, it may be most toxic when the “justice” system decides it can operate outside the law.  Whether it’s a corrupt, pettifogging Mike Nifong bending the rules to help his re-election bid…

…or a piece of garbage in a judge costune who decides the law is what she says it is:

A judge has ordered Matthew Hindes to appear in court or face contempt, despite the fact that he’s out at sea and there’s a federal law meant to help those who are deployed.

Sailor Hindes already won custody of his daughter – four years ago.  Now he’s a crewman on, concidentally, the USS Michigan ,a ballistic missile submarine.

The Serviceman’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was designed to protect servicepeople from being ambushed by legal actions (foreclosures, lawsuits, and yes, custody battles) while they’re deployed and defending the country, frequently in situations where keeping focus on their jobs is a matter of life or death for them and – in the case of a submarine crew – 150 other men.   By law, judges are to stay all actions for a minimum of 90 days while servicepeople carry out their duty to this country.

But Hindes’ ex-wife filed a motion in their apparently ongoing custody battle.  And – SCRA notwithstanding – the judge has declared herself above the law, and is demanding that Hindes crap out a miracle:

But circuit court judge Margaret Noe in Michigan denied that protection for Hindes. The Daily Telegram quotes the judge, “If the child is not in the care and custody of the father, the child should be in the care and custody of the mother.” But sailor Hindes argues the child was taken from the ex-wife four years ago for neglect.

Let’s not mince words:  Judge Noe is a martinet, and a pig, and a “human” only in the strictest biological sense of the term.  She is unfit to walk on the same street as Hindes, much less suspend the law in regard to his case.   She is a piece of animal offal with two legs and a law degree.

Military lawyers are now joining the effort to get a delay in the case. In the meantime Hindes remains deployed serving his country.

I hope those military lawyers start with tossing Noe’s actions thus far.  And then impeach “her” from the bench.  And then clap her in the stocks to be pelted with garbage and jeers, especially from other serving servicepeople, not to mention the rare custodial father.  Then it’d be nice to deport her to North Korea, where she belongs and into whose ruling class she would likely fit nicely, at least ideologically.  And I hope they film the whole thing, to show it to any other petty government functionary who tries to operate like the law is their personal byotch.

That’d be merciful.  “Judge” Noe should be happy I’m not this nation’s absolute ruler.  Then, things would get nasty.

Hindes’ supporters have Facebook pages here and here.

In Re: The Matter Of Brandon Eich: Comment 1 Of Many

To:  Gay rights supporters doing the end-zone happy dance (to an impeccable techno beat) over the lynching of Brandon Eich
From: Mitch Berg, uppity libertarian-conservative Christian
Re:  Forgiveness and Memory

Dear activists,

To all of you who are doing the end-zone happy dance over the ouster of Brandon Eich as CEO at Mozilla?   A couple of points:

The “H” Word:  I’m one who believes the word is very, very over-used in our society today – but it applies here:  if you have ever, even once, said “politics is too nasty, vitriolic and rancorous”, but support the Eich ouster, then you are a hypocrite.

And The “F” Words:  A lot of libertarian conservatives – including, on some facets of the issue, yours truly – did battle with our own tribe on this issue, supporting the idea of same sex unions to one degree or another (in my case, I support civil unions, while wanting government out of the business of sanctioning civil statuses altogether).    I didn’t expect much better out of Big Gay – any more than I do out of any other Big Left movement – but I know a lot of libertarian-conservatives are feeling burned today.  Many of us will forgive, but we don’t forget.

Wind, Whirlwing, Et Al:   Read Matt Walsh’s piece on the subject.  We’ll talk.  Oh, yes.  We will.

That is all.


This Is What Democracy Acts Like

Most people – even pro-“choice” Democrats – h favor some sort of restriction on later-term abortions, like the proposed 20 week limit in Texas:

A recent WSJ/NBC news poll has some data that might shock Democrats: Wendy Davis and her sneakers aside, a plurality of Americans support 20 week abortion bans of the kind passed in Texas. Forty-four percent of respondents said they would support the ban, with 37 percent opposed. And the numbers get more interesting the further down you dig. WSJ:

The Journal/NBC poll showed a complexity of views on the bans. More women than men supported the state bans, 46% to 40%. Even college-educated women, a group that strongly supports abortion rights, tipped toward favoring the 20-week restrictions.

And, of course, when you expand the field of questioning from 20-week bans to late-term restrictions in general, the support gets even higher. As Gallup found, “One of the clearest messages from Gallup trends is that Americans oppose late-term abortion.”

As much as liberals genuflect to Europe, you’d think that the fact that even France and Germany put even tighter time limits on abortion – 10-12 weeks, the last I checked – would start even some of them thinking.

And maybe it has, if this poll tells us anything.

Hold The Straw

One of the least useful arguments against gay marriage was “so it’s about love?  So if you love your goat, or a child, you could marry them?”

Neither goats nor children (age of consent laws notwithstanding) have standing to sign contracts, of course.  It’s kind of a strawman.

But the other, inevitable part of the argument is “so what about polygamy?”

Remember – it’s all about love, and civil rights.  And groups of people most definitely do sign contracts.  So who are we to hold our antiquated “monogamous” standards over polygamists’ heads?

No, it’s not a strawman

What’s magical about the number two?

In fact, you could argue that there is an even better argument for polygamy than for same sex marriage. For one thing, there’s a long tradition (just look at the heroes of the Old Testament.) It’s also intimately tied to religious practice, which means that by prohibiting polygamy, we might also be undermining the “free exercise thereof.”

Why should we impose our values on others?

Now, you might say that there is historical evidence to support the fact that polygamy is bad for women and children. This is sophistry. The truth is that right now about half of all marriages end in divorce, and lots of kids are already struggling, so it’s not like traditional marriage is a panacea. Besides, nobody is forcing you to be a polygamist. This is a choice.

And unlike gay marriage, which is entirely a modern Western social construct, Polygamy has occurrred througout human history, including our own. 

There are practical reasons, too. It’s harder and harder these days to make ends meet. As a man, I can only imagine how much more efficient it would be to have one wife in the workforce and another wife at home with the kids. This would be much better for the children than shipping them off to some nursery school. And having three parents is a lot better than having just one … or none.

Yesterday’s SCOTUS decision, and last fall’s election in Minnesota, had clear-ish verdicts; “marriage” is “about love” and “civil rights”.

So what – legally – is the difference between a monogamous and polyamorous family unit, since those are the standards?

Rear Guard Action

The GOP minority in the Senate managed to filibuster the daycare union jamdown last night – as in “up until 7AM”.

It wasn’t a “filibuster”, per se – the GOP added over 80 amendments to the jamdown, and debated them vigorously.  As of sixish AM, they’d gotten through a couple dozen, with dozens to go, and Tom Bakk tabled the  bill.  There are other things to get done.

Like maybe a budget.

The jamdown may come back.  But so will the amendments.

Cross your fingers, and stay tuned.  The good guys may pull this one off.


I’ve long said that the upside to any change in the law recognizing “gay marriage” would be that finally, once and for all, we could dispense with the notion of the Magic Gay Couple; more loving, more solid, more just-plain-worthy than all of us dirty imperfect Breeders.

Cable TV host David Tutera and his, er, husband are well on the way toward resolving this cultural problem:

On Tuesday, People magazine reportedTutera is divorcing Ryan Jurica. They married in Vermont in 2003 and had a domestic partnership in California. The two had been together for 10 years and are expecting twins via a surrogate in July.

Tutera filed the divorce papers in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 19, citing “irreconcilable differences,” according to People. He has been separated from Jurica since Jan. 1 and is seeking full custody of the children. Tutera does not want to pay spousal support and requests Jurica take responsibility for the legal fees.

The breakup saga took a wild turn Wednesday when TMZ reported Jurica filed his own papers in Connecticut. He reportedly claims the TV host has a sex addiction and visits prostitutes.

 I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; gays will not be fully equal in our society until we’ve dispensed with the idea of the Magic Gay Couple.

Nobody Can Stop At One

Joe Doakes from Como Park writes to the Minnesota Bar Association:

To the Chairman:

The amendment to prevent gay marriage from being court-imposed on equal protection grounds, was defeated. Gay marriage is only a matter of time. Our statutes are mostly gender-neutral already, it won’t be hard to adapt to “spouse-spouse.” But after we substitute individual rights for Judeo-Christian tradition as our intellectual model for marriage, why should equal protection stop at two spouses?

A billion people live in plural marriages in Muslim nations. Minnesota has an active and growing Muslim population. Muslims in England and Canada have obtained government benefits for multiple wives on equal protection grounds. Why should equal protection stop at welfare benefits; why not all civil rights flowing from marriage, the same parade of horrors used to justify gay marriage?

Adapting the statutes for three spouses will be trickier than for two. Must the Senior Wife consent to adding a Junior Wife? Do the Junior Wife’s children receive less child support? When the Junior Wife divorces, does she get a third or only half of the Husband’s half? If one woman has two husbands, who pays child support? Who gets custody – the departing biological mother or the remaining primary caregiver?

Lawyers advise clients to make contingency plans; well, we should take our own advice. The Bar Association should establish a Plural Marriage Legislation Committee now, so we’re ready when the time comes. It’s only a matter of time.

Joe Doakes

Como Park

After all, why should be westerners be imposing our values on them?

And all those years we spent browbeating the H’mong out of child marriage?  What right did we have, really?

If two people – or five people, or one adult and a 13 year old girl – love each other, what right do we have to get in the way?

It’s about love, right?

Back To The Parental Plantation

On most issues, I’m pretty detached – clinical, really.  Politics, really, is mostly just politics.

But my blood shot from Scandinavian cool to full boil yesterday with the news that our plutocratic playboy rent-a-governor vetoed the Custody Reform bill we talked about earlier this week:

Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed the final bill of 2012, an attempt to change the child custody formula to guarantee parents more time with their children

“Both proponents and opponents make compelling arguments in support of their respective positions,” Dayton wrote in a Thursday letter to the Legislature, after opting not to sign the custody bill, essentially issuing a pocket veto of the legislation.

Right now, Minnesota law presumes that both parents in a custody settlement will get a minimum amount of time — 25 percent of the year — with their child. The bill would have increased that minimum to 35 percent.

Supporters of the change said it would give non-custodial parents more quality time with a child than every other weekend and two weeks during the summer — a breakdown that doesn’t even equal 25 percent of the child’s year.

The bill isn’t the bill that I wanted – which would have created a rebuttable presumption that joint physical custody was in the best interests of the children involve.d

No, this will merely created a presumption (rebuttable, of course) that children should have 35% of their time with the “non-custodial parent”, and that this calculation should be used in calculating child support. .

And that would have been very, very much in the “best interest of the children”:

Opponents said the new formula took control away from courts and was designed to represent a parent’s interest more than the child’s.

That is a completely meaningless phrase – one that the bill’s various opponents have been chanting mindlessly ever since the veto came out, and can only have come from someone who doesn’t have children, or has never dealt with chidlren of otherwise-capable divorced parents.

What could be more in the “best interest of the children” than spending more time with both parents?

In his letter to lawmakers, Dayton said there was too much uncertainty about how the change in the custody formula might affect children. But he urged lawmakers to take up debate on the issue again during the 2013 session.

When, he hopes, a DFL majority will make it a non-issue.  Otherwise, he’ll veto it again.

Look – Governor Dayton’s veto was loathsome unforgiveable, and I hope he answers to a higher power for it someday.  But it’s understandable; he’s acting at the bidding of the radical feminists who are among his most vital constituents.  And radical feminists hate any divorce reform – because that would involve reforming the transfer of money from men to women that has sprung from the de facto alimony system that the child support system has become.

But I’m not as angry with Governor Dayton  – who, let’s be honest, isn’t doing any of the thinking, he’s just doing what his shareholders tell him to do – as I am with the legislators of both parties who cut the guts out of the original reform proposal (which would have created the rebuttable presumption of joint physical custody).   They, not our playboy plutocrat rent-a-governor, are the ones who see and hear the pain caused by the barbarism of our current divorce system.

(Yes, I’m looking at  you, Steve Smith; if you run in the primary, I will do everything I can to see that Cindy Pugh crushes you without mercy).

Off In Limbo

With all of the billionaire-pork-bill signing and job-creation-bill-vetoing of the last week of the legislative session, there is one curious omission,.

It’s HF 322, the bill to change Minnesota’s family court laws to provide a rebuttable presumption of joint physical custody in divorce cases.

That means that unless there is a clear, compelling reason not to – substance abuse, criminal record, gross inability to raise kids, record of abuse and so on – that the parents will be presumed competent to share custody of the children.

That is as opposed to the current system, where the presumption is that full custody will be awarded to the parent that ticks off the greatest number of evaluation criteria from a list of about a dozen that judges use; whichever parent “wins” the most of those criteria “wins” physical custody, and child support, and the whole nine yards.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know it’s been a hot button topic of mine forever.  Raising kids is hard enough with a functional family. The number of social ills that trace back to the huge number of single-parent households is absolutely overwhelming.

The bill was presented to the Governor on May 11, with plenty of bipartisan support.

And it’s still sitting on his desk.

Of course, two key DFL constituencies – radical feminists and lawyers – oppose the bill.  The feminists dislike the loss of child support money and the fact that joint custody puts a legal hurdle over women taking “their” children and going anywhere they want to go regardless of the kids’ relationship to a father they deem unnecessary and seemingly (to look at their rhetoric on the issue) presume to be a drunk abuser anyway.

The lawyers’ line is “if a couple can’t agree on enough to stay married,  how are they going to agree on raising kids together”.  But the current system deliberately introduces the stress of a winner-takes-all system into the dissolution of the relationship – the prospect of “losing” ones’ children – which heaps piles of emotional stress (and the billable hours they bring!) onto an already awful situation.  Lawyers oppose the presumption of joint physical custody because it trims down the cash cow of divorce.

Why won’t the governor sign this bill?

Hope For Change

I’ve had not a few things to say about the family law system in this country, and in this state, over the years.  The disintegration of the family is a plague on the society – and needs to be addressed.

But while we’re working on fixing that, there’s some slightly-lower-hanging fruit to deal with; the divorce and child custody systems.

As I noted earlier this week, there’s a proposal in the Senate to create a “rebuttable presumption” that joint physical custody is, in fact, in the best interests of the children in divorces.

Joe Doakes – a lawyer – writes:

I was a divorce lawyer for a dozen years in the late 80’s-early 90’s. My experience and research is 20 years out of date but I think [the proposal to create a presumption of joint physical custody] is still good law.

Minnesota divorce law contemplates two kinds of child custody: legal custody (which parent makes decisions about the kid’s religion, education, medical attention) and physical custody (which parent does the kid live with).

Legal custody is usually shared because even if Mom and Dad can’t live together, they generally can set aside their differences long enough to make important decisions about health and education. The proposed law would not change that.

Minnesota’s physical custody statute 518.17, 2011 Minnesota Statutes, sets forth a list of detailed factors the Court must consider before awarding physical custody to one parent or the other when joint custody is sought. The fundamental test is “best interests of the child.” One of those factors is “primary caretaker” and the factors to determine who that was, were set forth by the Minnesota Supreme Court in Pikula v. Pikula, 374 N.W.2d 705 (1985) as:

“ . . . (1) preparing and planning of meals; (2) bathing, grooming and dressing; (3) purchasing, cleaning, and care of clothes; (4) medical care, including nursing and trips to physicians; (5) arranging for social interaction among peers after school, i.e. transporting to friends’ houses or, for example, to girl or boy scout meetings; (6) arranging alternative care, i.e. babysitting, day-care, etc.; (7) putting child to bed at night, attending to child in the middle of the night, waking child in the morning; (8) disciplining, i.e. teaching general manners and toilet training; (9) educating, i.e., religious, cultural, social, etc.; and, (10) teaching elementary skills, i.e., reading, writing and arithmetic. . . . “ Pikula, at 713. [case attached]

For convenience, I’ll call this the “primary caretaker” system as that seems to be the emphasis.

And these factors that undercut the notion that “the system is biased against men” – it’s really a matter of counting up how many factors each parent “wins” – and points you to the truth; it’s biased against traditional male gender roles.  Parents can be “tied” on every single factor in determining custody – every single factor – but if the children spend four days a week with Mom as the main caretaker, and three with Dad, then that’s the factor that’ll settle custody.

From what I’ve read in the news accounts, there doesn’t seem to be any dispute about the basic facts: the primary caretaker system gives Mom custody 85% of the time; single-mother households struggle with poverty; and children raised in poverty in single-parent households fare less well than children raised in poverty from two-parent households.

Mothers are different than fathers; there’s a reason humans evolved to have one of each in the “ideal” household.  Girls who grow up with impaired relationships with fathers statistically grow up with self-respect issues, depression and all sorts of trouble finding surrogate daddy figures in their lives.  Boys without fathers simultaneously grow up unable to process anger effectively and, perversely, risk averse; mothers are not generally temperamentally the physical risk-takers among kids’ parents.

There doesn’t seem to be any dispute with the conclusion that the primary caretaker system is an abysmal failure for many children.

From those facts and that conclusion, it seems fair to say that the primary caretaker system is NOT in the children’s best interests.

Now, saying the primary caretaker system is bad doesn’t mean this proposed legislation is good. But if we’re convinced the primary caretaker system is not in the children’s best interests, then it follows that we have a moral obligation to junk it. For the children.

Joe Doakes

Como Park

There are arguments against the presumption of joint physical custody.  Feminists insist that it’ll allow “abusive fathers” to raise children; the law would, in fact, allow proof of abusiveness to “rebut” the presumption – which would give men actual legal rights, which irks feminists.  Currently, as many as half of all allegations of abuse during divorces are shown to be false, raised purely to affect the custody process.  And it works.  Requiring allegations of abuse to meet a legal standard to rebut the presumption of joint custody would be a huge step forward.   That’s why feminists hate the proposal.

The “family law” lobby’s objections, if anything, are more cynical.  Their line is “if a couple can’t get along well enough to settle their differences enough to stay married, how can we possibly expect them to act in their kids’ best interest?”  Of course, one of the reasons divorces are so ungodly emotional is because it’s a winnter-takes-all system that costs hundreds of dollars an hour and ends with one party – usually the father – exiled from the kids’ lives.  The system – and the worst of the lawyers who earn their living from it – carefully fan that fear.

Any legislator, GOP or DFL, who opposes this proposal is going to get a molten-hot earful from me.

Marginal Notes On A Marginal Poll

I’m going to go back to Dave Mindeman’s piece at mnpACT, about the most recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey of Minnesota politics, for the numbers on some issues that don’t pertain to Governor Dayton and the Legislature.

Minnesota’s constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is headed for a close vote. 48% of voters say they support it while 44% are opposed.

I neither support nor oppose the Amendment, but I have a fearless prediction; if the PPP poll, which trends a little left and features a left-heavy sample, calls it a four point race today, it’ll be 49-41 in November.

Let’s go back to the whole “people like their own bastards” bit:  Mindeman, mindful of the poll results, asks:

So, WHERE is the DFL candidates for MN-02 and MN-06 ? MN-03 and MN-08 seem to have multiple candidates in the mix …. if there are going to be any coattails from the top to help the State Legislature candidates, doesn’t there need to be someone in every district ?

There are two answers:  First, it’s further evidence that people like their own bastards; while national polling shows that Congress is less popular than Slobodan Milosevic, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to know that John Kline and Michele Bachmann will win their districts by 30 and 15 points respectively, even if the Dems endorsed Zombie JFK to run for the office.

“Even though Congress is unpopular?”

Yep.  As noted earlier today, polls of legislative bodies as a whole are almost always misleading.  Congress may be unpopular; Kline and Bachmann are not.

BTW … do you think the mature approach that Governor Dayton has taken on the Vikiings stadium has helped … even if the taxpayers don’t want to pay for it, they sure don’t want to the lose the business … and obviously the Governor is trying.

If by “mature approach” Mindeman means coming out of his closet long enough to croak “Uh want ivverbaddy to git to WOARK and sulve the prollum”, then retreating to the closet and letting the Legislature, the cities, the counties, the NFL and Wilf do all the work?  It may or may not be “mature”, but it’s certainly easier on the poll numbers.