January 25, 2012
story on the
"systemic bias against men in King County family court". (For those not from this area:
This particular King County includes Seattle and most of Seattle's suburbs.)
Rhea Rolfe, an attorney who once taught a "women and the law" class at the University
of Washington, recalls sitting with a male client in a commissioner's courtroom one day. There
were maybe seven or eight cases heard. "She ruled against every single man," Rolfe
recalls, "and two of them were unopposed."
. . .
By far, though, the most damaging allegation—the one that can change everything in
an instant—is domestic violence. That's why, Rolfe says, "there are attorneys who will
advise a client to accuse the other party of domestic violence in order to gain an advantage."
(Question for attorneys: Would such advice be ethical?)
It is hard to believe that this "systemic bias" is good for anyone, in the long run, but I
especially worry about any children who may be caught in the middle of these fights.
Cross posted at
Jim Miller on Politics.
More here and
(Caveat: The article is based mostly on testimony from anonymous men and their
representatives. I don't doubt that most of what Shapiro writes in the story is true, since
she strikes me as a careful reporter, but we should recognize that we are not getting all sides of
Posted by Jim Miller at January 25, 2012
03:52 PM | Email This
1. The papers informed him his wife was filing for divorce. Worse, she had requested, and been granted, a temporary protection order based on allegations of domestic violence. The order--issued at a hearing that took place without Jim--took effect immediately. It required him to vacate his house and refrain from "any contact whatsoever" with either his wife or his 3-year-old son.
Family courts are a kangaroo court and men have little if any recourse within them. They are generally guilty until proven innocent, especially in this state. Which is why as a single man I would never date women with children- If biological daddy absconds or can't be found, guess who the courts will come after for child support payments? Yup, that would be you. No thanks!
2. Question for attorneys: Would such advice be ethical?
I think even non-attorneys can see that it would not be, but not to worry: the claim that this happens comes from someone who can use such an allegation to explain away her own failures, and who didn't provide any evidence to support her self-serving claim. (Was she privy to the advice given by other attorneys to other clients? Now, that WOULD be unethical!)
The article is based mostly on testimony from anonymous men and their representatives.
And an anonymous comment on a web site somewhere, which Shapiro uses to attack the character of one of the commissioners. Well, that's some careful reporting, right there!
I honestly don't know what's funnier: Jim's condescending lectures to local reporters on their supposed bias and credibility problems, or his willingness to post accusatory material from anonymous sources and biased parties if he believes it suits his purposes.
Tensor, I find Jim's posts here on Sound Politics and on his personal blog to be polite, thought provoking,rational and well thought out. You on the other hand...?
I have a number of clients in the family law profession and as to the issue of fairness for men in the courts, it's stacked against them. That's due to stereo types that mothers are better child rearers than men and to the false notion that men are more violent in family situations than women. In the Seattle/King county area, its worse.
As to ethics in the legal field, ha! The ends justify the means. We dont have a justice system. We have a legal system and there is a big difference between the two.
4. I find Jim's posts here on Sound Politics and on his personal blog to be polite, thought provoking,rational and well thought out.
Well, the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have a problem, so it sounds as if you've made it one half-step along the way to solving yours, DD.
My definition of "polite" does not include giving unsolicited advice that one does not oneself take, nor does it include repeating accusatory and self-serving claims based upon anonymous sources. So, we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.
5. Tensor, Pot calling the kettle black.
6. "there are attorneys who will advise a client to accuse the other party of domestic violence in order to gain an advantage."
IMO, the only thing worse than scummy men who beat their wives are wives who lie about it, and their attorneys who advise them to lie about it. I can believe the courts are stacked against men, but there are many skeezy men who have failed their wives and children bigtime and deserve to be ruled against. Men have such a huge role/contribution to play in their family's lives and far too often they shirk.
Ladies, I think Dr. Laura's advice is good, when it comes to marriage---"Choose wisely and treat kindly". For many women, their "chooser" is broken, and they should just stop dating until they learn to stop picking bad men.
7. Michele, who's advice was Dr. Laura taking when she slept with her boss, who later released the nude photos to prove the affair?
8. Rick D@1
What a bunch of baloney? The illogical leap that you jumped is outstanding. Given that attitude, it is better for the single women with children not to date you. Do you approach all relationships with the attitude that they will fail, which is what your illogical leap assumes?
You do realize that the incident you cite happened many years before Dr. Laura's conversion to faith, before her she started her advice program and might just be the REASON she now gives others that particular advice?
Context matters, learn some.
tc @ 8:
The illogical leap that you jumped is outstanding.
No, I'm stating a fact. Just because you're hyperventilating saying that it's "illogical", doesn't make it so, tc.
..it is better for the single women with children not to date you.
Whatever. They don't exactly have a choice in the matter, tc. It's a personal choice i've made, so frankly, I don't give a damn if that hurts your feelings or not.
11. Rick D,
Your logic sounds like the new (satirical) Direct TV commercials, that go from getting angry at your cable provider to ending up in a ditch.
12. I know the laws in this state,tc. You apparently do not. So what if I choose to protect myself from having to pay child support for a kid that isn't mine? If anything, you're the illogical one here. Like I said, it's my choice and last time I checked, you were all about "pro-choice". What is illogical to me is your getting all riled up about my personal choice that harms no one, while you support a woman's personal choice to end the life of a viable human being.
tensor: I think even non-attorneys can see that it would not be, but not to worry: the claim that this happens comes from ...
... reason. Even if no one said it happened, we would know it does, because we know:
a. an allegation is all that's needed to bias the court in your favor
b. there's no negative legal consequences for making a false allegation (unless proven false, which is extremely difficult)
Therefore, a significant number of people will make false allegations, and a significant number of lawyers will encourage their clients to do so.
The world works based on incentives, and the incentives are strongly in favor of lying about abuse. Therefore we know it happens.
This systematic mistreatment of men and especially fathers in our state Superior courts is the among the most shameful episodes of constitutional and judicial abuse in our history. I challenge anyone on this sight or anywhere else for that matter to look further into this and then with a straight face tell me this is not true. The feminist and domestic violence industry myths that only men are capable of abusing and that women should raise the children are mostly to blame for this alarming status quo. Don't believe me? Here are some sites to reference:
Perhaps the most onerous fact of trying to show how this discrimination against men is rampant in our state is that our courts have deemed themselves above reproach and EXEMPT FROM PUBLIC DISCLOSURE. Take this from a man who has been abused by Thurston Co. commissioners and judges in family court. By the way TC, you are clueless about the overwhelming reality of men's discriminatory experiences in family court.
15. Rick D @13
Wrong. I am not pro-choice and have stated my opinion on that subject numerous times in the past.
I am not clueless. I am just pointing out the over-the-top illogical conclusion that Rick D drew from Jim's post. Jim's post is accurate, and adds the caveat. What I draw from that is a need for more data gathering to "prove" the point. At this point in the discussion, we have a theory that hasn't been definitively proven. But the theory proposed by the author of the article Jim points to is a far leap of logic away from Rick D's hypothesis that step fathers are also made to provide child support for step children. It is like I said the illogical line of conclusions satirically put forth in the Direct TV commercials (get angry at cable --> go to racquetball court to blow off steam --> get hit in the eye with racquetball --> have to wear an eye patch --> ride home on bus with eye patch on --> bad people on bus see you with eye patch and think you are tough guy --> bad people attack you after you get off bus because they thing your are tough guy and throw you in the ditch).
To reiterate, I do not disagree with the theory put forth that men may be being discriminated against. If that is the case, then actual proof is needed instead of anecdotal proof, should be put forth to change this practice. Complaining about it solely based on anecdotal proof and not doing anything about it is a worthless endeavor. Get off your but and collect the proof, if you are so concerned about it. Also, stop electing these judges.
I know ALL these "anonymous" sources. They are all good men, not violent, where were nonetheless sentenced by the evil Kingco Commissioners, including one who called Sky's mom an "excellent mother" to evaluation by a guy who has testified that he "never found a man not in need of DV treatment", Doug Bartho, who was mentioned in the article.
There is an extreme bias in Kingco, and most other courts against men. All Shapiro wrote is true, I have seen it, and met with those gents.
About time this was exposed, the question is, does anyone care? Certainly not the lieyers who line their pockets, the various advocates who have offices in the court, or the judges who keep their courtrooms full.
The conservatives should care, because removing a Dad from a child's life brings a host of social pathologies down the road, at a tremendous social cost.
#7: Eyago is right. I have a friend who did drugs as a teenager before he became a christian during college. He would tell you his life wasn't exactly stellar before he took that direction. But he sure is a good, intelligent guy today and I'd happily take advice from him about many things.
Btw, I especially like the "choose wisely" part, b/c so many women fail that part and choose jerk men.
The bias in our courts is well documented. The legislature enacted laws several years ago with the hope the courts would start to turn their boat around.
Until several years ago, it is well documented that the Commissioners who hear child support cases were funded by the division of Child Support. They still are, they just dont' have to fill out the timesheet any longer due to some fathers rights advocates beating on the system of bias.
Bias - there is a reason the Snohomish County Courts were destroying their court records after 6 months, rather that the legally required 7 years. That too has stopped, due to pressure from Fathers Rights groups.
Go into court one day and watch, its no secret.
Senator Kastama testified to Little Jamie Perterson's committee that a Tacoma Judge told him - "we give fathers every other weekend, thats just what we do." yet, the LAW mandates a decision in the best interest of the Child. Not CHildren-Child. A unique decision for the child in that family. Not some policy that doles out what is convenient for the biad of the courts.
Debate this subject all you want, and call each other names like you do every day. In the mean time, loving fathers are ripped from the grabbing hands of their children.
20. .. is a far leap of logic away from Rick D's hypothesis that step fathers are also made to provide child support for step children
You truly are clueless, tc. This scenario happens far more often than you think. Family courts do not care if the man is the biological parent or not. All that matters is that they have been in the childs life in some "paternal role" and boom, the courts can and have ruled that he has to pay child support if the biological father cannot be found. It is fact.
You're simply putting forth an emotional argument that has no basis in reality. Since you are completely out to lunch on the subject, I suggest you don't comment on something you are ignorant of.
Yes, accurate that what we need is more data. Yet, the courts refuse to fill out the forms manadated by the legislature that would give that data. And, they lobbied to have that form minimized so that there really is very little data there.
The courts don't want data collected on the work they do. It's plain and simple. And, we keep these career Commissioners, who are unelected, and server at the will of the Judges, with no accountability to the people.
It's a perfect storm, with the Courts in their huricane enforced courtrooms, and the people standing outside in pajamas, holding their children and trying to resist the gale force winds of bias.
Rick D @20
This is the link to the law in question and it doesn't say what you have reported.
The last sentences reads "The obligation to support stepchildren shall cease upon the entry of a decree of dissolution, decree of legal separation, or death."
23. When a petition for dissolution of marriage or state registered domestic partnership or a petition for legal separation is filed, the court may, upon motion of the stepparent, terminate the obligation to support the stepchildren.
tc- your last sentence doesn't mean jack without what comes before it above. Does "may" mean shall where you come from? "may" means the court could or could not terminate the obligation to support. Because many family courts already side heavily with the mother's and in the best interest of the child, they are obviously much more likely to continue to hold the non-biological stepparent to their child support obligations. That is the reality on the ground, tc.
In legal terms "shall" trumps "may." If courts aren't abiding by the law, that is a separate question. I have no clue to the actual cases you anecdotal refer to. If in fact those events did occur, then the stepparent should revisit the issue with the courts because it is out of line with the law.
I can state anecdotal evidence on the other side of the argument. A friend of mine, woman, lost custody of one of her sons because the man, in this case, played the court systems, even though the Guardian Ad Litem report stated the exact opposite. This happened in Wisconsin, not Washington. It is anecdotal, like I said, but it carries just as much weight in argument as your anecdotal evidence. What matters is what the law says and are the courts following it. If the law is in error, then it is up to legislators to fix it. If the courts are in error, then it is up to us citizens to demand resolution of the issue by (1) electing different judges, and (2) support legislators that will provide the necessary funding to correct the systematic issues. One of the biggest systematic issue, when it comes to all courts, and especially domestic courts, is the caseloads. As the article points out, each side is given 5 minutes. Why? It is because of the number of cases having to flow through the system. If we want justice, then we do need to pay for justice which takes time. Five minutes a side for argument is worthless and not true justice.
I was served with divorce papers on November 2009. Several pages down, there was a court order removing me from the home that I singlehandedly purchased by noon the next day. All my ex-wife had to do was say "she was afraid of me" and my life became a bitter hell for the next two years. I was unable to step foot in my home, the home I worked all of my life to pay for, ever again. On that morning, my wife disappeared with my children and I did not see them for ten days and then, after appearing in court weeks later, I was given the right to see my children every other weekend. I am a loving parent and was a good husband and provider. My children wanted to be with me and live with me, but the King County Courts and the bottom-feeding divorce industry, comprised of attorneys, mediators, therapists, GALs....I have never experienced a more demeaning, frustrating, biased, and unfair process or a more collusive and self-serving group of people.Collaborative law is a terrible joke....the King County Family Courts are worse....they are dangerous for any family sucked into their vortex. They do not care about you or your children...it is all about expediency with them and all about money with the bottom feeders.
I would not allow my ex-wife to take my children away from me and ruin their lives. I fought, against the advice of the GAL, the therapists "ordered" by the GAL, the mediator, the arbitrator, and my first attorney...a woman. My second attorney...a man, was flabbergasted at the unfairness, but hey....I am a man and that is the way it is, you know? I continued to fight and eventually won an equalized parenting plan, which was all I was ever trying for anyway. I should not have had to fight to see my children for as much time as my borderline, controlling, and abusive ex-wife. After tens of thousand of dollars of attorneys fees, ten thousand dollars in GAL fees (oh...and she, the GAL, didn't even provide a report), therapists for the children, and collaborative and totally worthless marriage/divorce counseling ordered/suggested by the GAL (who nobody wanted to piss off...). It still came down to me simply saying no...I did nothing wrong, I will not settle and I am totally willing to stand in the court and tell the judge that I am a good man, a loving father and husband that had never touched anyone, especially my wife in any violent or angry way. I am a good provider for my family and all of the lies are simply that....lies...not one shred of proof, witnesses, or evidence. I had to be prove my innocence or be willing to try...they never had to offer any evidence whatsoever of violence or bad parenting. It was all heresay...but nobody cared.
My case turned out OK because I would not give in, but the costs will be measured all of my life and my childrens lives...money, emotions, hardship...and not one of those people cared one iota.
Today, I am paying maintenence and child support. But I get to be a father to my loving children. As soon as the mediation and arbitration was over, she left the state for a month on vacation and the children have lived with me most of the time since April, 2011. I now voluntarily pay for all of their medical bills, sports fees, school lunches, and clothing and pretty much all of their needs because with me, it was always about the children. If I don't do it, she won't, even though I pay her about half of what I make each month. With her, it was and is only about her and "winning".
Men...beware the King County Family Courts and the King County divorce industry. It is as if you had entered hell....
26. tc- Whether "shall" means anything is up to the court to decide. As I stated before, if the court takes into consideration the child's financial support and well being, they will continue to hold the step parent to their support payments. I personally know 2 people who are curently in that predicament and yes, they have had legal representation;the whole nine yards.
For all those who have not gone through this, please shut up, listen, and learn something. Read SadDad over and over until you really, really get it. This is how this deal works.
I was told she and her male-hating attorney would lie through their teeth in everything they said and wrote just for pure spite. Judges would say "I know what the law says but we do it MY way in this court" and they proceeded to do just that.
I consider myself fortunate. I got off with only tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees instead of $250,000 I was quoted by four different attorneys to battle the anti-male, anti-father bias. By the way, I also had to pay HER legal fees...
28. Even if no one said it happened...
Ah, but the someone who said it happened had something to gain from saying it happened, and no evidence of any kind whatsoever to show it had happened. (Nice try, though.)
there's no negative legal consequences for making a false allegation (unless proven false, which is extremely difficult)
The "negative legal consequences" for perjury and for suborning perjury are, in reality, very severe. Even if it is "extremely difficult (to prove)" -- a point no one has yet established -- the consequences would not be ignored, especially not by an attorney. (Nice try, though.)
Therefore, a significant number of people might, or might not, make false allegations, and a significant number of lawyers might, or might not, encourage their clients to do so. No actual evidence exists to show this has happened.
There, fixed it for you. (Nice try, though.)
SadDad, Bob Manning:
You both stated it so well I can add nothing too it, except to say that I too have been victimized by the man-hating industry of courts, lawyers, counselors, state bureaucrats and the like. The worst outcome is evidenced by my daughter, who sadly, is revealing (at 28) many of the immoral and shameful traits she learned as a result of being raised by her mother and her mother's family. Lord knows I tried but two days every two weeks just doesn't allow the opportunity for a caring father to properly influence his childrens' upbringing. And don't the leftist social engineers who devised this "system" know this.....
were originally created to shed light on this issue. Those blog owners will gladly introduce any skeptics to about a 100 men tomorrow who have been reamed by the system.
The article does a good job of describing the situation.
An accusation of DV is all that is needed to strip a man of most of his rights, including his 2nd amendment rights.
The accusation alone ends ALL careers in the military (if you want I can introduce you to men this has happened to).
For policemen, the accusation basically puts them in the same category as David Brame.
In custody battles, the accusation will add 20-300k to a man's attorney bill. I can introduce you to about a dozen men tomorrow who have not seen their kids since their seperation simply based on an accusation.
I will also call out that the same judges who hand these out are also the same judges who give the rest of society EXTREME judgements like Chris Wickham in Thurston county who ordered talk radio hosts to register their time covering candidates as a financial contribution with the PDC and equally insane environmental rulings.
Here are some non anymous victims of bias and shows you how bad the bias is w/in the courts
Note- Bonus points if you can tell me who Judge Paula Casey is married to!!!!!
I can testify to the fact that Snohomish County Family Court is doing the same type of things that are happening in King County.
I was served with an Order of Protection in October of 2010. The Order was issued based solely on lies from my ex. For 2 weeks I was not allowed to have ANY contact with either of our children. We went to court and proved nothing happened and that she lied on her court statements. Did the Commissioner cite her for contempt? No. Did he make her pay my legal fees for defending myself against an obvious lie? No. The very day I was removed from my home, my ex moved her boyfriend in.
2 weeks after the Order was dismissed, we were back in court to set-up a temporary Parenting Plan. The Commissioner put several orders in the Plan. One was that she was to get both children into counseling within 2 weeks of that hearing. She got our 6yo daughter into counseling almost immediately, but not our 12yo son. It was almost 3 months after that hearing before that happened. She didn't need to find counselors for them- I provided her with names of several qualified therapists for her to choose from. The second order was that the children were not to have ANY contact with the boyfriend until after everything was settled, and after BOTH children's counselors "signed off" on it. I documented when my son's counseling started. I documented when the boyfriend was not only around the children, but when he spent the night at the same house as them. I had witness statements from multiple people. We called for an emergency hearing to have the children pulled from there mother and given to me as ordered in the Temporary Plan. The commissioner decided that my ex really didn't mean to violate the order and so she should continue to keep the children. As a result, the children were around the boyfriend for another several months, inspite of the order.
A Guardian Ad Litum was ordered as part of the preparation for Final Orders. I gave her access to all my files detailing all of the above and much more. Days when the children's mother (or anyone else) wasn't home to get them off the bus. I had to make arrangements to have them picked up by my family and friends. The fact that she didn't attend my son's IEP meeting, either child's conferences, and that she rarely did homework with the children. I did. I gave her the names of 2 people who know our entire family. She interviewed 1. I gave her the names of all the children's teachers and support staff. She interviewed less than half of them. I gave her the names of both the children's counselors. She interviewed 1 of the 2. She interviewed a co-worker of my ex... who has never met me, and hardly knows either of the children. She had access to the boyfriend's current wife and his history of actual domestic violence against her and her children. The Guardian ad Litum ignored ALL of that and decided that my ex and her new boyfriend were much better for the children than me.
I sent a DETAILED letter to the court officer who is in charge of reviewing cases where a Guardian ad Litum has been ordered. I received a short letter saying that, while some of my claims may have merit, I should take my case to court and have a Commissioner decide. In total, my ex and I appeared before 3 different commissioners (2 male, 1 female) and I didn't stand a chance of getting a FAIR hearing before ANY of them.
33. Whew! All this talk about anti-male courts makes you want to go back to the days when only white male property owners had the right to vote!
34. Most of these comments should be going to Nina Shapiro unless she has refused to hear them?
[ That's what I did.]
Sidebars do little to promote more investigative journalism.
Yeah cuz those rich white male property owners owe the Occupiers a free college education.
36. @33. Or to a place where everyone gets treated equally under the rule of law instead of different laws based on race, gender, and one's willingness to commit anarchy in a public park.
37. Legal theory relating to the responsibility of stepparents to support stepchildren in Washington is a bit complicated because we have two separate laws, and there isn't a simple black-and-white answer. RCW 26.16.205, part of the community property statute, says parents (including stepparents) are responsible for family expenses. But court and administrative orders to pay child support are established under the state child support scheduled, Chapter 26.19 RCW. The leading cases interpreting the interplay of these laws are Van Dyke v. Thompson, 95 Wash.2d 726, 630 P.2d 420 (1981), and Harmon v. DSHS, 134 Wn.2d 523, 951 P. 2d, 770 (Wash. 1998). As a broad conclusion, a stepparent won't be required to support stepchildren except while living with them. An exception is that a court, in its discretion, can order a stepparent to pay temporary support during separation prior to divorce. Legal theory, of course, only describes what is supposed to happen in court; and what actually happens in court may diverge from what the law is. The remedy provided for that is appeal to a higher court, which is of limited solace to he who must pay for the expenses of an appeal. But to the extent Rick D. is arguing that stepparents are on the hook for child support payments just as if they were biological parents, that's not the law in Washington and hasn't been for many years now.
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