Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm not the Father

I'm back!  I know you are all thrilled to find me back and ready to spread the good word of equal and fair parenting rights for both mothers and fathers.  My 2-week sabbatical was well spent adoring my soldier during his R&R time while he took a break from Afghanistan.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

I got an interesting "Action Alert" from the American Coalition for Fathers and Children about comedian Carl LaBove.  If you haven't heard his story yet, its all about how he was married, had a child with his wife, got divorced, paid child support but was denied access to his daughter.

That was part 1.

Part 2 starts when Carl LaBove found out he wasn't actually the father of the child, confronted his ex-wife who admitted having an affair with his good friend who is now dead from a tragic accident, had an agreement with his ex-wife that she would drop the child support requirements, she did nothing and let the State of California continue to badger him.

Part 3 finishes off with the aftermath...Carl LaBove now has an adult "daughter" who he barely knows, but still sought him out to hear his side of the story (I love her for that.).  He has had his license, passport and credit all destroyed for the past 2 decades.  The man isn't even allowed to DRIVE.  And finally, he is STILL being hounded to pay more than $188,000 in back child support and fees for a child that isn't his.

You can read the story from Yahoo News here.  Or, if you are more of an NPR kind of person you can read their version here.


This is truly the tragedy of a man finding out that the little girl he was madly in love with and who desperately tried to see her every moment he could, but was continually thwarted by the ex-wife as much as possible (sound familiar?)...

If you want to see a video interview of Carl from the ACFC National Family Law Reform Conference please click here and scroll down to the section titled interviews and click on Carl LaBove's name.  Its pretty interesting to hear how before he knew he was not the father he suffered many of the same frustrations that divorced men have in dealing with an ex-wife who makes it hard to see your child.

I am particularly amazed that the State of California continues to believe that even though it has been proved through a paternity tested that Carl LaBove has a zero percent chance of being this child's father; he should actually continue to pay child support to a woman who cheated on him.  Gee...nothing like twisting the knife once they stick it in you.

Because in order to get this order erased Carl LaBove has to show he was coerced into signing his agreement with his ex-wife.

Now I suppose I should say that Carl is not above a little reproach here...  You kind of want to give him a slap upside the head and say, "What were you thinking?!" He had been told by his ex-wife that he wasn't the child's father, but he never got paternity testing done until now.  His lawyer never suggested it...the divorce from his ex-wife took SIX years (kill me now!) to finally be settled.  Within that six years he discovered he wasn't the child's father...he had a verbal agreement with his ex that he didn't have to pay child support, but he still signed the documents stating he would.


Does this make any sense to you at all?

Carl LaBove is speaking out...and, in fact a week ago went to court to get this ruling of child support overturned.  The actual petition won't be heard until March 29th...

He, like so many others that have come in contact with the family courts, is frustrated and angry at how these courts seem to never listen...never hear the man's side.  In Carl's own words“The day my ex-wife blurted out that Sam had fathered my daughter – that was the day my life changed forever. I was devastated. But after all these years, I’ve learned to forgive. Now I’m just mad at the unjust law. I want to set the record straight and get my life back. I’ve been punished long enough for a crime that was committed in my bedroom. I’ve made it my mission to help others in my situation who are suffering from an unfair law.”

Now, I know this blog is supposed to be about father's rights...but don't you think this just highlights all the problems fathers have in the family court system?  Is it the bad lawyers who don't make the case?  The sneaky ex-wife who just wants to "stick it" to her ex-husband?  The "deaf" judge who automatically assumes the worst of the father and never gives the benefit of the doubt?  The law that doesn't clear a man from a responsibility that should not be his?  Do we go so far as to blame those who don't pay attention and vote for whoever is running for that judicial seat (because nobody really pays attention to who is running until you have to stand before one of them and try and explain your case.)

This feels like one of those moments when I should jump on a soapbox and holler, REFORM!  But I'm not even sure that really makes any sense.  The reality is that until people start to pay attention to the injustice in the family court systems...until people who aren't actually involved in the system start to care about what kind of crazy rulings are being thrown around by elected officials...

Well, until then...none of this is going to change.  

I have many a single mother friend who probably cringes to hear me say what I say.  But, I still ask you to spread the word, dear readers and share your viewpoint. even if it's not the popular one, and maybe we'll see that reform start to happen...    

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