In his new book "Twice Adopted" (Broadman & Holman: $24.99), Michael Reagan tells how, as the child of divorced parents, he only got to see his father, former President Ronald Reagan, on alternating Saturdays. He wrote, "To an adult two weeks is just two weeks. But to a child, having to wait two weeks to see your father is like waiting forever."
American courts are presumed to be based on an adversarial system with each side arguing its best case, subject to standards of due process, evidence and proof. Somehow, that doesn't function in family courts.
Some divorce lawyers advise wives to manipulate the process by using a three-step technique: (1) make domestic violence or child abuse allegations, (2) demand full custody, (3) collect large amounts of child support, alimony, and legal fees.
If the father objects to this process, the wife can make more accusations. The evaluators then call it a high-conflict divorce and give custody to the wife, declaring that shared parenting won't work.
If the husband doesn't acquiesce, he is reprimanded by the court for "not buying into the process." In trying to defend himself against accusations, the father is denied the basic rights of a criminal defendant such as presumption of innocence and the necessity that the accuser provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Family courts force fathers to submit to interrogations and evaluations by court-chosen child-custody evaluators. Fathers are forced to pay the high fees of these private practitioners whom they have not hired, whose services they do not want, and whose credentials and bias are suspect.
The children are also subjected to these evaluators who attempt to turn the children against their parents in unrecorded interviews.
One of the most un-American aspects of family court procedure is the sentencing of fathers to attend re-education classes and psychotherapy sessions to induce them to admit fault and to indoctrinate them in government-approved parenting behavior. The court-approved psychotherapists report back to the court on the father's supposed progress, and his attendance at these Soviet-style re-education sessions must continue until he conforms.
A cozy relationship exists among local lawyers and court-approved psychotherapists who recommend each other for this highly paid work of making evaluations, counseling, and conducting re-education classes. The psychotherapists decline to challenge each other's recommendations or question their competence, and lawyers decline to cross-examine them, because they all want to continue the profitable practice of referring business to each other and collecting fees from fathers who are desperate to see their own children.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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