Dads Protest Discrimination In Divorce Child Custody Kfar Sava,
men are allowed to carry M-16s to protect Israel,
but not allowed to carry their own children. Photo:
Israel News Agency
Ra'anana, Israel ----- February 24, 2008 ....... Over 40 divorced
fathers who are being denied equal access to their children
staged a demonstration today at the Kfar Sava Family Court in
"This is a peaceful, non-violent protest against family
court judges, child welfare departments in Ra'anana and Kfar
Sava and the mayors of these Israel towns who continue to ignore
the plight of families at risk," said Niv Amit, the founder
and director of Fathers Injured by Family Court Judge Mekayes.
" Mekayes behavior and biased decisions against men is
symptomatic of a sick, perverted justice and child welfare system
in Israel which is in critical need of reform."
group was joined by members of Fathers 4 Justice Israel, another
human rights group whose mission is to provide equal access
and shared parenting to the children of divorce.
was in Mekayes court room just a few weeks ago, " said
Kobi, a former police officer who today works as a private investigator.
"This Israel family court judge was provided with dozens
of pages of testimony from a leading and respected professional
child psychologist who urged the family court to provide me
with 45 percent access to his children. Mekayes looked at the
papers for no more 15 seconds and placed thousands of dollars
of professional testimony to the side. Is this justice or is
it gender bias discrimination against men?"
stated that he has served Israel as both a combat soldier in
the Israel Defense Forces and as a police officer for 12 years.
"In Israel we are allowed to carry a M-16 but not our own
children," he said.
was a cold, grey overcast day in Kfar Sava. The gloomy weather
reflected the moods of the many men who came from Jerusalem,
Hafia, Tel Aviv to support one another in solidarity. Some of
these men, none of which have criminal records, are restricted
to seeing their children only for a few hours under governmental
discrimination and the forced separation of father from child
stems from an outdated law passed by the Israel Knesset in 1962.
The Family Custodian Act of 1962 clearly states that all children
under the age of six will automatically have custody under their
mother, unless the mother is violent, drug abuser or negligent.
But the cultural miliu by governmental agencies in Israel transcends
the age of six.
custody in Israel is rare. Most couples who divorce in Israel
find it difficult to decide on anything together. Without the
cooperation of both parents in Israel, their is no joint custody
or shared parenting. Israel family courts will only accept joint
custody arrangements when both sides agree. The father is cast
away by the mother, the justice and child welfare systems in
Israel as a second class citizen. The dad turns into a "cash
machine" paying child support every month while being denied
equal access to their children. As a result, children become
alienated from their fathers suffering from Parental Child Alienation
Syndrome, crying from the immediate and long term adverse behavioral
effects of divorce and separation for years to come.
Israel News Agency contacted Israel family court judge Mekayes
who refused comment. The INA also requested comment from Ra'anana
Mayor Nachum Hofree. Our calls were never returned.
the time that the movie Kramer Vs. Kramer hit the movie theaters
there has been little movement by Israel courts and some US
and England courts to reform.
he was deployed in Afghanistan, a US Navy Seal wrote a lullaby
for his son Sean, whom he calls SS. The song opens: Rock a bye
SS ROCK Rock a Bye you sang to me each eve And you gave me rolling
rock a byes of dreams I've yet to dream. Each night I'd pray
that when I'd awake You'd have safely ROCK'd me home to the
greatest gift, the Lord hath given me; my little son named Sean.
may never hear that lullaby again, not because his father Gary
died, but because Sean's mother relocated him to Israel.
visited family in Israel during one of Gary's re-deployments
and simply stayed, seeking a divorce from abroad. Israel is
notorious for it's archaic system of implementing and enforcing
gender bias discrimination through an outdated law from 1962
which "presumes" that the mother will look after the
child until the age of six unless the court is convinced she
is incapable of doing so. This 43 year-old law, passed by Israel's
Parliament is enforced today by the Israel family court system
and local child welfare departments. Gender bias discrimination
has been outlawed in many Western countries and replaced with
best interest of the child or shared parenting.
has unsuccessfully battled the family court system in California,
which has jurisdiction over the divorce, for almost two years
in order to gain some access to SS. After all, that same court
demands he pay hefty child support. Gary comments "I am
paying $2,100 a month not to see my son."
is the new face of father's rights, a face men's rights activists
are determined you will see in coming months: the military man
who is "processed" by the family courts during his
tour of duty or upon his return. A father who returns 'home'
to children he cannot see and, often, to support payments he
cannot make. As Gary http://www.glennsacks.com/the_betrayal_of.htm
states, "Sometimes I wonder what I risked my life for [in
Afghanistan]. I went to fight for freedom but what freedom and
what rights mean anything if a man doesn't have the right to
be a father to his own child?"
is not alone.
The grassroots organization American Coalition of Fathers and
Children (ACFC) has just launched a vigorous ad campaign to
educate the public on how anti-father bias in the courts is
destroying the family. An ad currently being prepared by the
ACFC highlights the dilemma of military dads who are victimized
by zero-tolerance and unreasonable legislation that was passed
to deal with "deadbeats." Activists are pushing the
image of the military father who is victimized by family courts
not merely because it is true but primarily because it is effective.
That image breaks through the pervasive cultural stereotype
that fathers who lose custody or become "deadbeats"
are uncaring, unfit, wife beating, child-abusing losers who
deserve what they get.
traditional custody arrangement, with mom as the sole custodian
and dad demoted to weekend visitor, may have been painful, but
practical, in a family with a 50's-style division of labor;
but to the father who knows every Wiggle by name, the pediatrician's
number by heart and how to make a bump-free ponytail, such an
arrangement could be perceived as an outrage, regardless of
what might be more convenient or who is the primary caretaker.
arrangements that noticeably harmed children are those having
the child visit the father for sleepover visits only several
times a year. Children in such arrangements, Brinig found, were
significantly more likely to suffer from depression and fear
of dying young. But whether a child had a sleepover with his
father a few times a month or a few times a week didn't seem
to influence that child's well-being in any measurable way.
Kids who had sleepovers with their fathers several times a month
were less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than kids who didn't."
the period following divorce, one study has found, close to
half of all children lose contact with their fathers, with that
figure rising to more than two-thirds after 10 years.
a study performed by the American
Psychological Association (APA), it was revealed that children
from divorced families who either live with both parents at
different times or spend certain amounts of time with each parent
are better adjusted in most cases than children who live and
interact with just one parent, according to new research on
custody arrangements and children's adjustment.
Robert Bauserman, Ph.D., of AIDS Administration/Department of
Health and Mental Hygiene in Baltimore, Maryland conducted a
meta-analysis of 33 studies between 1982 to 1999 that examined
1,846 sole-custody and 814 joint-custody children. The studies
compared child adjustment in joint physical or joint legal custody
with sole-custody settings and 251 intact families. Joint custody
was defined as either physical custody - where a child spends
equal or substantial amounts of time with both parents or shared
legal custody - where a child lives with primarily one parent
but both parents are involved in all aspects of the child's
in joint custody arrangements had less behavior and emotional
problems, had higher self-esteem, better family relations and
school performance than children in sole custody arrangements.
And these children were as well-adjusted as intact family children
on the same measures, said Bauserman, "probably because
joint custody provides the child with an opportunity to have
ongoing contact with both parents."
to the US Centers for Disease Control and the National Fathers'
Resource Center, eighty-six percent of men have at least one
child during their lifetimes. Using the 50 percent divorce rate
figure, and knowing that fathers lose custody of their children
about 80% of the time, it can be calculated that about 34% of
American, English and Israel men will experience the loss of
child custody sometime during their lives.
is well-known that noncustodial fathers often experience high
levels of psychological distress. Social scientists have made
observations such as the following. Wallerstein noted that post
divorce visits with children "can lead to depression and
sorrow in men who love their children". Ross observed that
many divorced fathers are "overwhelmed by feelings of failure
and self-hatred," and as a result are "disengaging
from a family that is no longer really theirs".
and Williams highlighted the sense of failure that these fathers
experience. As a result, these men "exhibit substantially
higher rates of psychological distress and alcohol consumption
than do married men." Blankenhorn described non-custodial
fathers in this way: "These men are very angry. Indeed,
their white-hot sense of injustice can sometimes produce in
them the phenomenon of pressured speech, in which emotional
intensity derails normal conversational rhythms."
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."
to Sociology Professor Augustine Kposow 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."
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.
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."
rights groups contend court bias plays a direct role. One divorced
father committed suicide on the steps of San Diego's courthouse,
another set his car afire outside Alaska's child-support office.
Fathers' rights groups, joined by a few academic experts, see
a common denominator in these recent bursts of rage, and ask
whether America's family court system could be partly at fault
by deepening the despair of many divorced men.
of these guys are poster children," said Lowell Jaks, president
of the Alliance for Non-Custodial Parents Rights. "But
when you cause this much pain to so many men, there are going
to be repercussions - a certain percentage are going to crack."
largely support the argument that family structure influence
child development through its impact on family processes. In
other words, children of divorce are at risk for adjustment
problems because their parents are less likely to engage in
competent, consistent parenting and are more likely to engage
in conflict exchanges than parents who are married to each other.
Divorce, with its emotional turmoil, time demands and often
financial stress increases the custodial mother's own chances
of becoming depressed, which in turn tends to disrupt the quality
of her parenting, Simons explains. This, in turn, increases
the child's risk for adjustment problems.
to fathers in intact families, the divorced, non-residential
dads were less likely to help their children solve problems,
discuss standards of conduct or enforce discipline, increasing
the probability that boys would display conduct problems. "It
is essential, especially for sons, that fathers continue to
function as a parent," Simons emphasizes. "Simply
showing the kids a good time and being a pal doesn't make any
difference in terms of developmental outcomes for kids."
the worst problem that many divorced dads face is being separated
from their children and being termed "visitors" by
a narcissistic mother who uses an archaic gender biased Israel
custody law from 1962, which states that the child automatically
goes to the mother with full custody till the age of six.
Many times child welfare wants to assist the father but must
wait for the Israel court to have child welfare request more
or equal time with the father.
couples start talking divorce - they need mediators, not attorneys,"
says Drora Burnstein, a child psychologist in Tel Aviv. "The
attorneys live off of their conflict. The first measure they
suggest is to stop all communication, as they believe that communication
can be used against the other party in a legal case. These attorneys
create what is known as the 'deathblow' for the child to have
any sense of present or future family stability."
show that children whose whose divorcing parents have resolved
their disagreements through amicable mediation will have a faster
and healthier recovery from the trauma of divorce," Sara
Silber, a child psychologist from Ra'anana, Israel told the
INA. "I have worked with children of divorce whose
parents are fighting each other in court, one can see the suffering
and the pain on their faces. It makes me feel very sad, it's
heartbreaking, frustrating when I can't reach a parent who is
resisting lowering the conflict."
Shilo, an attorney who has practiced family law in Israel for
over 15 years, told the INA:
"The parents should never use the child in their war against
each other. The child, an innocent victim, should be left out
of any and all conflict. Instead of running to the family court
and filing various harassing legal motions, I suggest that the
disputing couple first go to a social worker, child psychologist
or divorce mediator. To stop wasting time and money, parents
need to resolve all issues outside of court."
adds: "Even if you do not tell the children what is going
on they will still know what's happening, they will still suffer
from the conflict. Use attorneys to create agreements on shared
parenting not to increase tensions which only hurt the child
in the present and scars them for life."
have been holding demonstrations against gender bias discrimination
at Israel family court houses on a regular basis," said
Amit, a former officer in the Israel Air Force. "We are
now planning a second stage of public awareness. Going from
20 to 50 people protesting at Israel court houses through out
the nation to hundreds attending mass rallies in Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem. If we don't address basic human rights regarding
our children's future, who will?"